MR. WISE, in rising to move the Resolution of which he had given notice upon this subject, said he wished to impress upon the House the necessity of revising the system upon which our diplomatic service was conducted, and of placing it upon a more efficient footing than that upon which it now stood. The evils arising from mistakes committed at home were limited in extent, but if our foreign representatives committed mistakes, the consequences were unlimited, and might prove dangerous to the interests of the empire and fatal to the peace of the world. He thought, therefore, he need not apologize for introducing this subject to the notice of the House. In taking up such a subject a Member always exposed himself to the charge of making personal attacks, but he begged to repudiate such an imputation. He only desired, as a representative of the people, to obtain such information and to propose such measures as should be for the public good. He had also strong sympathies with a portion of the diplomatic body, and regretted much to hear that such able men as Lord Stratford and Sir Hamilton Seymour were about to quit the public service. Even in asking a question on a former day which might appear to be tainted with personality he had only been actuated by a desire to elicit information to which he conceived the public had a right:—when despatches were laid upon the table raising charges against public servants he should be wanting in his duty were he not to do his best to ascertain the real facts. As far as the British Minister to Sardinia was concerned, he gave him every credit for being a useful Minister and a firm supporter of constitutional government; and with respect to the other gentleman, Mr. Erskine, be was known to be an energetic and able public servant, who he hoped, notwithstanding his one error, would be soon again employed. Having said so
much as to his motives, he would address himself to the merits of his Motion. Until the death of George IV. all diplomatic salaries were charged upon the civil list; but at the accession of William IV. the subject was investigated by a Committee of that House, who recommended that the diplomatic charges should be paid out of the Consolidated Fund, but the salaries of the consuls wore to be subjected to the annual vote of Parliament. He mentioned that fact, as he might be met by a statement that there had been a bargain with the Crown; but that argument was unfounded. The salaries of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the First Lord of the Treasury, as well as of the consuls, were, during the reign of George IV., paid out of the civil list; but a Committee of the House of Commons thought proper to transfer them to the annual vote of Parliament. If the House bad power to do that with respect to one class of salaries, he apprehended it had the same power now to act with regard to diplomatic salaries. He thought the present state of things showed there was a kind of financial caste existing. He never could see the distinction between the consular and diplomatic bodies, and could not imagine why the expenses of one should be charged upon the Consolidated Fund and those of the other class be dependent upon an annual vote. The Estimates for the military and civil services were laid before Parliament, and there was no reason why the diplomatic service should be otherwise dealt with. Were the duties discharged so irreproachably—was the patronage so admirably distributed that no Parliamentary supervision was needed? When he remembered certain events which had happened in Spain, America, and elsewhere, he thought it was most desirable that ' there should be more frequent opportunities of discussing in that House the duties and salaries of our Ambassadors: abroad. Another reason for the change he advocated was, that, if our diplomacy was to become more national, the representatives of the people must take more interest, exert more influence, and acquire more information in all that concerned it. He fancied that the tendencies of the Foreign Office of late years had been of too secret and confidential a character. Those tendencies he believed to be mischievous, as he held publicity to be in all public affairs the best guarantee for tranquillity and order. Many of our diplomatic diffi-
culties had arisen from secret correspondence. The Secretary of State wrote a private letter and also a public despatch; but when he retired from office there was no record of the former. Such a practice appeared to him to be fraught with danger in these times. He did not undervalue true diplomacy — he thought every attempt should be made to maintain peace and concord throughout the world; but, unfortunately, the history of the Foreign Office and the annals of diplomacy led him to the conclusion that, instead of being the promoters of harmony, they had rather been the causes of misunderstanding. He did not know whether the new Foreign Office was begun to be built; but, if it had, he hoped the windows would be very large, so as to admit the air of public opinion, that the door would be kept permanently open to the public in the shape of the patronage, and that the secret system would not he continued any longer or the patronage distributed to a select few. He would next advert to the financial part of the subject, but before he did so he might be permitted to remind the House of a saying of the celebrated Talleyrand. ''Happy the nation," said he, "which had no frontiers." He (Mr. Wise) believed that this country would be much happier than even Talleyrand anticipated, if we could get rid of that mischievous industry and irresponsible activity which existed in ail the Courts of Europe in the shape of "Missions," which formed a perpetual hot-bed of strife. His desire would be to promote as far as possible the efficiency of the gentlemen who had to discharge those important duties; he thought, therefore, the House ought to call for such an investigation as would lead to a revision, if not a reorganization, of the system; and as we could not keep our diplomatic corps in quarantine, we ought at all events to endeavour to have a clean bill of health. He came now to the financial part of the subject. By an Act passed in the early part of the reign of William IV. the Government of the day was empowered to fake £180,000 a year from the consolidated fund, and to pay out of it the salaries of Ambassadors, Charges d'Affaires and other such expenses year by year. It must not, however, be supposed that £180,000 a year was the full extent of the expenditure occasioned by the diplomatic service. On the contrary, he found scattered about among the Estimates various other charges connected with the service, and amounting
in the aggregate to an enormous sum. Last year the charge on the Consolidated Fund for Ambassadors was £159,530; the miscellaneous expenditure amounted to £37,500; the outfit to £7,390; and the cost of repairs of embassy houses to £6,912; making a total of £211,335. The Foreign Office expenditure was £67,169; and that of the consular service £205,089, which, with the £211,332 he had just mentioned, amounted to £483,590. The average of seventeen years was £320,258, and therefore the expenditure of the last year was considerably above the average. In 1792 the total cost of the two services was £11.3,927, showing a very great difference in the expenditure between that time and the present. Again, independently of the £9,000 or £10,000 a year paid for house rent, we had paid for our Paris embassy house £89,000, and the House was told last year that it was in a bad state of repair. The house at Constantinople had cost £90,000, the estimate being £33,000. Then at Paris, Vienna, Madrid, St. Petersburg, the Netherlands, Constantinople, and Berlin, we found services of plate for our Ambassadors. Again, "the extraordinary expenses" were gradually increasing. In 1851 they amounted to £16,000. and last year they bad increased to £37,500. And independently of the salaries charged on the consolidated fund during the last ten years the expenses had been as follows: — Miscellaneous, £208,099; outfit, £52,973; special missions, £91,915; rent, £98,000. It appeared also there were eighteen foreign service messengers, and, as if they were not sufficient, there was an item for three extra ones. He might add that if all he heard of one of these messengers appointed last year was true, if such an appointment was made it was a disgrace to the man who made it. Then, in these days of railways and telegraphs there was a sum of £32,000 put down in respect of couriers, and another item in connection with that part of the service of £6,564, making together £38,564. For Foreign Office postage there was a charge of £9,500, and for Ambassadors' postage of £4,013. There was another item still more extraordinary perhaps than any of the preceding ones—namely, £8,113 for interpreters and translations. When he saw that, he asked what the secretaries of legation did? Then there was a charge of £42,000 in respect of the secret service, £32,000 of which was voted by
that House, and the remaining £10,000 was paid out of the Consolidated Fund. Why one portion of that charge should be paid out of the Consolidated Fund, and another portion he placed upon the annual Estimates be could never understand, and he submitted that it would be much more simple and desirable if the whole charge were made to appear annually in the Estimates, and voted in one sum. To continue his statement—last year the Government asked that House to expend £10,500 in the purchase of the English Protestant chapel in Paris. He was glad that the House did not accede to that proposition; notwithstanding, as he had been informed; their decision had been characterized by the Ambassador as being excessively absurd. Since the reign of George IV. this country had expended no less a sum than £218,820 on the chapels of our embassies abroad. In 1844 the expenditure under that head was £4,000, but in 1857 it amounted to £8,000. Then, again, the salaries of the chaplains of embassies amounted to upwards of £1,500 a year. If he were to put all those items together they would amount in the aggregate to a sum which would astonish the House. But after the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other night, in which the right hon. Gentleman said he was sincerely disposed to economize the public expenditure, he (Mr. Wise) hoped he was in safe hands; and that the right hon. Gentleman would begin with the Foreign Office, where there was such ample scope for retrenchment. In 1850 the House appointed a Committee to inquire into the matter of official salaries. That Committee, which consisted of, among others, Lord John Russell, Mr. Wilson Patten, Sir John Trollope, Mr. Ellis, Sir W. Molesworth, Mr. Ricardo, Mr. Bright, and Mr. Walter, reported very strongly in reference to this diplomatic expenditure, and made a great number of recommendations; but nothing had been done. Why? Because the amounts being charged on the Consolidated Fund were only laid on the table of the House twelve or fifteen months after the money was spent. In 1854 he called the attention of the House to this very point, and asked for a confirmation of the Resolutions of the Select Committee of 1850. He carried his Motion by a majority of 55, and among those who voted with him were the present Lord Chancellor and the Attorney General for England, and the Se-
cretary of the Board of Control also acted with him as teller on the occasion. The noble Lord then at the head of the Government stated that some of the recommendations of the Committee would be curried into effect, and that a change was going on at the Foreign Office by winch many improvements would be effected. He was free to acknowledge that some beneficial changes had taken place, and that there were at this moment in the diplomatic service men of whom the country might well be proud. The Report of the Committee of 1850 contained the following Resolutions, which were passed unanimously—
First. That it be recommended to the Government to propose to the Government of France and Turkey to convert the Embassies now maintained between those countries and England into missions, and that our diplomatic establishments at Paris and Constantinople be put on the tooting of first-class missions; secondly, that it be recommended to the serious attention of the Government that a single mission at some central point in Germany may be substituted for the several missions now existing at Hanover, Dresden, Stutgard, Munich, and Frankfort, without detriment to the public service; thirdly, that it be recommended to the Government to make arrangements for uniting the mission at Florence with one of the Italian missions; fourthly, that no diplomatic salary shall exceed £5,000 per annum exclusive of an allowance for a residence; fifthly, that it be recommended to the Government to revise the salaries of the whole diplomatic service, regard being had to the relative importance of the various missions, and that in certain eases a union of missions might take place, or a Consul or consular agent be substituted for a mission, whereby considerable saving might be effected without injury to the public service.
Now, he asked the House to consider what had been done with this Report, of the Committee of 1800. In 1851 there was a Treasury Minute, ordering that the Ambassador at Paris should have a salary of £8,000 a year; but a short time afterwards the Foreign Office made another order, raising the salary to £10,000. He was not saying whether £10,000 a year was too much or too little. Paris was an expensive city; the Ambassador was called on to give many dinners, and they had the authority of one of their diplomatists for saying "that dinners were the soul of diplomacy." The salary of £10,000 was given during the war, but he had never heard of the additional £2,000 being taken off after the war ceased. At Constantinople the salaries were £14,000 and £8,000 for allowances. This was a large sum, but if there was one establishment to which more than another he would consent to give a liberal expenditure it would be to
that of our Embassy in the East. Nothing could be more important than our mission there. The Eastern question was only adjourned, There could be no doubt that Russia, Franco, and England looked to the East as a kind of Naboth's vineyard, and nobody could say what events might occur; therefore, if we would maintain a good position in the East, we must keep able and energetic men in that part of the world, and especially in Egypt. In Egypt we had great interests. Mr. Bruce, our Consul General, received a salary of £1,800 a year, and he had been to China, discharging the duty of secretary to our Ambassador in that country. Surely Egypt should not be dealt with after this fashion. Our trade with Egypt had greatly increased, our exports to that country being £2,500,000, and our imports £1,000,000, while our transit trade was of the greatest possible importance. To carry on our business in the East we required not only men of great energy, but men instructed in the languages of the East. We paid not less than £6,000 a year for dragomans, and lot the House only consider what our position was at Constantinople and elsewhere when we had to depend on the fidelity of these men. In one case we employed a man as dragoman whose brother was dragoman to other Powers. In this respect we acted in a manner totally different from other countries. France, Austria, and, of course, Russia had their own countrymen taught in the Oriental languages, while we alone did not employ our own subjects. It was a great misfortune that £6,000 a year should be spent in native dragomans. He was aware that young men had been sent out from Oxford or Cambridge, but he believed that the experiment did not succeed, and he thought the most likely mode of getting good interpreters was to train up the young sons of consuls for the work. Turning from the East to the West, what did we find in Germany? At the important Court of Hanover our Minister had more than £4,000 a year; at Bavaria, £4,500; Saxony, £3,000; and Wurtemburg, £3,000, the kingdom of Wurtemburg not even thinking it worth while to send a Minister here in return. It was said these envoys at small Courts were the eyes and ears of the Foreign Office; but he thought the maintenance of Ministers at Frankfort, Vienna, and Berlin was quite sufficient for the service of Germany. With regard to Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, and
one or two smaller missions the Committee of 1850 had a right to say that it was worthy of consideration whether a great deal of money might not be saved by revising these missions and leaving Chargés d'Affaires to manage the business. In Italy we had usually three Ministers, with the following salaries: — Naples, £5,000; Florence, £3,200; and Turin, £4,850. He generally found that some of these smaller missions, such as Florence especially, were hold either by influential incapacity or incompetent patricans. They were places for men rather than men for places. They were in fact a kind of disguised misappropriation of the public money. You could not go to the Treasury and put your hand in the national sack, but it was easy to create a place that was not wanted and to create a salary. The present Emperor of the French told a story of his great uncle, who getting up very early one morning in the middle of summer, and taking a walk through the apartments of the Tuileries, found a little boy in one of the drawing-rooms heaping up a mass of beechwood upon a roaring fire. When asked what he was doing, the boy replied— "I am making ashes for my father; they are his perquisites." Many of these diplomatic places were in like manner what Napoleon called in the case of the ashes "consommation inutile." Then there was a double expenditure going on, only a part of which came before the House. At Lisbon we had an Envoy at a salary of £4,000, a Secretary of Legation at £500, an Attaché at £200, making a total of £4,700. There was a convenient item of sundries of £457; but we also paid a Consul £600 a year, and a Vice Consul £300, and they also received fees to the amount of £400. When Sir Hamilton Seymour, who had been Minister at Lisbon, was examined before the Committee, he gave the following evidence: —
I understand you to Say that you are frequently engaged in attending to applications from Oporto and Madeira. Are those from English merchants at those places?—Yes, constantly.
Are they for the redress of grievances as against the Government of Portugal? If any Englishman have a cause of complaint he will write to me immediately.
Would not his application, in the first instance, be to the consul?—There seems to be no rule on the subject.
Are you aware of the salary which is paid to our consul at Oporto?—I am not.
Nor at Lisbon?—No.
But it is understood to be their duty to attend to the merchants and shipowners who have busi-
ness in those ports, and to see that they have justice done them in their ordinary transactions? —Yes, that is their business.
They are paid for that?—Yes.
Are the Committee to understand that, notwithstanding the consuls are paid for performing that duty, the duty really devolves upon you?—I really do not know why it should be so, but there appears to me to be a very decided preference in general for having recourse to the Minister instead of the consul; so it is, that I have constant applications of all descriptions.
I suppose those are matters which could be arranged by the consuls?—In many case I have no doubt about it, and with great advantage.
Is it not irregular that we should first pay consuls high salaries, and that we should pay an embassy with a large establishment to do the work of the consul?—The consul has business in which the mission does not take any sort of part.
It thus appeared that there was no regular division of labour in the diplomatic service. He would recommend to the attention of hon. Members a little book published by Mr. Cavendish, précis writer to the Foreign Office. If Mr. Cavendish had wished to break up the present system he could not have done it more effectually than by writing this book, because it contained an exposé of the whole system, and enabled him to allude to the mode of patronage prevailing at the Foreign Office. The staff of the diplomatic corps consisted of 136 noblemen and gentlemen. This was not a question between patricians and plebeians. He should be the last to desire that the aristocracy should not participate in all the honours of the State. He wished, on the contrary to see them struggle with other classes for the possession of political power, the situations of ambassadors and any other posts for which they might be qualified. He should be sorry to see the young nobles of this country like those of Italy and Sieily. From the advantages they possessed, however, in regard to wealth and education they would, under any circumstances, have the very best chance of getting the most desirable places and appointments. It appeared from Mr. Cavendish's book that out of 136 diplomatists more than 100 were either Peers or the sons, nephews, and near relations of Peers. It was singular, also, to find that, from the year 1740 to 1858, the five missions of Austria, Prussia, France, Russia, and Spain had been filled by 146 ambassadors and Ministers, 115 of whom were Peers. The missions to Frankfort, Persia, Denmark, and the Hanse Towns being inferior posts and not so pleasant, only furnished 10 Peers out of 98 diplo-
matists. Under a well devised system of competition, all England might have an opportunity of entering into this department of the public service. The best linguists and those who possessed the best knowledge of international law might then have a share in the prizes of diplomacy. He held in his hand a work written by a gentleman who had long taken an interest in the diplomatic service, and who had himself been in the service of the Crown. This writer said—
In France, in Prussia, in Russia, in America, and in most of the other countries in the world, men rise in the diplomatic service by the mere force of great merit, of singular aptitude and ability. But in England, high birth, considerable fortune, Parliamentary connection, or aristocratic influence are the chief passports to the best employments in embassies and foreign missions. In the most commercial country in the world—in the country with the largest number of colonies and with the greatest interests at stake in every quarter of the globe, in a country in which ten years hence the chief business likely to be conducted will be principally commercial—we select for ambassadors, secretaries of legation, altachés and précis writers, men of title and Parliamentary connection—scions or younger brothers of great houses just escaped from college. We appoint not men as judges, or confide our fleets and armies to admirals and generals because they are the sons of this duke, the cousin of that marquess, or the sons-in-law of that peer. Why, then, it may be asked, in the selection and nomination of ambassadors, ministers, and envoys do we pay such homage to the influence and recommendations of great houses,—to Parliamentary influence,—to backstair patronage and support?
So that the country was well served he was indifferent who was appointed, and whether they were the sons of Barons or burgesses. But the great blot was in the organization of the staff, which was at the very commencement unjust. A youth of 19 was, perhaps, launched, without salary, as an unpaid attaché upon one of the most extravagant capitals of Europe. He was in principle opposed to any public servant being unpaid, and he thought it would be a wise course to consider the expenditure at some of the minor Courts, to determine the number of attachés required, and to pay them all proper salaries. England begrudged nothing which was proper, and all she sought was efficiency; but he was quite certain that the principle of not paying attachés was mischievous to the country and injurious to the young men. The diplomatic service became a fashionable and ornamental employment. There was no inducement to study; and it was deeply to be lamented that a great number of gentle men, several of whom were Members of
that House, who, had they remained in the service, would have arrived at a distinguished position, left it because they felt disappointed that, in fact, there was no prospect of promotion. To have a good service they must encourage those who were in the service. There were occasions when the rule should be broken; but, generally, when vacancies occurred the claims of those in the service ought to have the first consideration. The noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office had most judiciously and wisely acted upon that rule, and in the recent selections which he had made he could not have appointed more proper persons than had been appointed to Vienna and Madrid. The paying no salaries was a bar to entering the service, because, unless a young man was allowed a comfortable income by his parents, however qualified he might be, he had no chance of living in Paris, Vienna, or St. Petersburg. Many men went into the diplomatic service just as others went into the Horse Guards, with no intention of remaining in it. They did not look forward to being ambassadors, as law students looked forward to being Lord Chancellors. They were often the eldest sons of men of fortune, who, upon their fathers' death, succeeded to vast estates and quitted the service. He also thought that attachés left this country a great deal too young. With views unformed, and their education scarcely completed, they were sent abroad at nineteen or twenty to be attachés, with no salary and very little to do. It would be a great deal better for them that they should be brought up for some years in a public office, especially the Foreign Office. But if the Executive intended to have a real reform, they must consider whether they could not in some way amalgamate the diplomatic and consular services. A young man who had entered the diplomatic service would jump at a good consulship, and if he were qualified he ought to have it. There were consulships of £1,500 or £1,600 a year at Constantinople, Tunis, and Tangiers, and no end of consulships through the East, varying from £700 to £500 a year, which would be a great inducement to young men to qualify themselves and to join in competition for those appointments. He did not see why, to some extent, the two services should not be united. He was satisfied that our Ministers and envoys ought to have a knowledge of the commercial interests of the country. He could conceive no degradation, dishonour, or loss of caste in a
young man having been for a year or two at Hamburg, or any other port. Having important duties to discharge as secretary of legation he would know the meaning of commerce, whereas now a great many attachés and secretaries of legation looked down upon all trade, and thought it degrading. He did not see why we should not encourage a knowledge of Oriental languages, by establishing scholarships in connection with our colleges after the French system. A wonderful future was destined for the East, and the more our representatives knew of the Eastern languages the better it would be for our diplomacy. Under the French system, no less than seventeen gentlemen, who had been Ministers and Ambassadors, commenced as pupil consuls at some humble consulate. They learnt their business, and obtained the promotion which they deserved. Such a system would infuse life and energy into our diplomatic and consular services, and lead to the young men who held those appointments receiving a far wider range of instruction. What with railways and telegraphs, the Cabinets of Europe, at all events, might correspond directly as well or better than by writing so many despatches; but he was afraid he should receive very little support in advocating the abolition of permanent embassies. He was quite convinced that they must get rid of what was called secret diplomacy. The system of not giving information to Parliament, until the time was passed for Parliament expressing any opinion, must be given up. Papers presented by command, usually, did not give half so much information as the "second edition" of The Times; and he was sorry to say they were, very often, not half so well written. We had no chance with foreign diplomatists. We were too truthful and too sincere, and he hoped we should always retain those diplomatic faults. Some people might talk of the prerogative, the right of the Crown to nominate Ambassadors, and to throw all the charges on the Consolidated Fund. He wished there were no charges at all on the Consolidated Fund. It was a mischievous system. The whole public service ought to come before the House, and his object was to bring before the House every year the Voles relating to the Diplomatic Service. He believed that (if he might use the expression) it would purify the air and be of immense advantage, by giving an opportunity to have all those matters discussed. He had laid before the House
his reasons for the Motion. He thought many would agree with him that reform, revision, and reorganization were necessary. He was convinced the country thought so; and he should, therefore, ask the House to sanction the Resolution he was about to propose, which had for its object to remove the charges of the Diplomatic Service from the secret recesses of the Consolidated Fund to the more constitutional folios of the Civil Service Estimates.
Motion made and Question proposed,—
That it is the opinion of this House that the Diplomatic Salaries and Pensions now charged upon the Consolidated Fund should be brought under the more immediate view and control of Parliament, and be paid out of a Vote annually provided by the House of Commons for the purpose.
MR. SEYMOUR FITZGERALD
Although it is not my intention to follow the hon. Gentleman who has just addressed the House through the various points of the very wide question to which he has called our attention, I am quite willing to admit that the question itself is one of the utmost interest and importance, not only for the reasons advanced by the hon. Gentleman, but because it affects a body of men whose services are of the greatest importance to the country, and whose mistakes or misconduct too often result in the most serious consequences. It is important, also, not only because the amount of money annually paid in respect of diplomatic services is large, but because it relates to a service which, to use the eloquent words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone) is one of the highest triumphs of civilization, inasmuch as its object, in the disputes of nations, is to avoid the necessity of the last appeal to arms, and to bring to the settlement of the contests of peoples and of nations that spirit of conciliation and calm deliberation which we desire to see maintained in private life. The hon. Gentleman, it is fair to say, has manifested a singular constancy of purpose with reference to this subject; and I am free to say that in that respect his efforts have been extremely praiseworthy. On this occasion, however, he has somewhat narrowed, in terms at least, the question which he has introduced to our attention, because the present Motion has reference only to the method adopted in the payment of salaries and pensions for diplomatic ser- 1509 vices. I certainly, therefore, did not expect that on this occasion we should have heard any of those sweeping accusations with respect to the extravagance of Ambassadors, of their houses, chaplains, and outfits, to which on former occasions the hon. Gentleman has so frequently referred. All those observations with respect to the expense of the ambassadorial establishments, and the extravagant scale on which our foreign political missions are carried out, really have nothing at all to do with the question before the House. But, Sir, constant as the hon. Gentleman has been in his endeavours to bring the House to bear upon this question, I am afraid that I can only express the same dissent to his conclusions, the same opposition to his views, which upon various occasions have been expressed by those who have preceded me in the office which I have at present the honour to hold. I do not complain of the manner in which the hon. Gentleman has brought the subject forward, or question the accuracy of the account which he gave of the way in which this charge was placed upon the Consolidated Fund. Up to 1832 it was a charge upon the Civil List; and when the hon. Gentleman expresses his fear that some opposition might be raised to his Motion, on the ground that it trenched upon the prerogative of the Crown, I assure him that—although I think it is a point which should be touched with great delicacy, and one which should not be undervalued or overlooked—I should be the last person to interfere with the just claims of the House to deal with the expenditure of any portion of the public funds by making an appeal with respect to the strict prerogatives of the Crown. In 1831 the reformed House of Commons appointed a Select Committee to take this subject into consideration; and, after giving it their fullest attention, alter discussing the question in all its bearings, after availing themselves of every aid, and by the best evidence they could procure to enable them to arrive at a sound conclusion, that Committee of 1831—came to the following conclusion, upon which the whole of the present system rests. In their Report, they say:The next branch of expenditure which your Committee proceeded to examine was that of the diplomatic service; and on this subject their inquiries were aided by the Secretary of State for foreign Affairs, who attended for the purpose of giving any explanations that might be required from his department; but, before they applied 1510 themselves to the examination of the details of this Estimate, it appeared a matter of serious consideration to examine in what manner it might be most consistent with the public interest to provide for the diplomatic servants of the Crown. Hitherto this branch of expenditure has been borne on the Civil List; and at the accession of His present Majesty it stood as follows:—£196,950 for the effective and non-effective diplomacy. The Select Committee of 1831, having excluded this charge from the Civil list, the first point to be decided by your Committee was, whether the diplomatic expenditure should be hereafter charged on the Consolidated Fund or should be voted annually in Supply.That is the exact question which the hon. Gentleman has now brought under the notice of the House. I will now proceed to read the decision of the Committee:In either case, the expenses of foreign missions would be brought under the full knowledge and control of Parliament; but it appears to your Committee, after the fullest information upon the matter, that it would not be expedient to introduce charges of this character into the annual Estimates.So that that the Committee, appointed by the House specially to consider this question, after hearing every argument which could be urged either on the one side or the other, came to a deliberate conclusion, which the hon. Gentleman now asks the House to reverse. The Report proceeds:Your Committee, therefore, recommend that a provision should be made for this service, chargeable on the Consolidated Fund. This arrangement will insure that all savings which may be made shall at once go to the public account, and will enable Parliament at all times to take cognizance of, and pronounce a judgment upon, any diplomatic expenditure which may properly be made the subject of inquiry or animadversion. In order to afford an additional security against abuse, it is the opinion of your Committee that a statement of these accounts should be annually laid before the House.That recommendation was afterwards embodied in an Act of Parliament, and has been substantially adhered to by the Foreign Office down to the present time. The next recommendation of the Committee is worthy of remark:These arrangements appear to your Committee to be at once calculated to protect the public interests in the foreign relations of the State, and to guard against improvident or lavish expenditure.The result of this recommendation of the Committee was, that an annual charge of £180,000 odd was placed on the Consolidated Fund, with a view to the discharge of all diplomatic salaries and pensions, and the result of that, far from being, as the hon. Gentleman has tried to persuade the House, conducive to an extravagant expenditure, was the very best means of securing 1511 economy; for, although the amount of £180,000 was by law chargeable upon the Consolidated Fund for diplomatic services, yet at the end of every year since 1842 a very large sum, amounting in some instances to nearly £20,000, had been returned and made available for the general services of the country. The hon. Gentleman has advocated that the salaries and pensions connected with the diplomatic service should be submitted every year in the same manner as the ordinary Estimates, and in illustrating the question he alluded to the case of the extravagant expenditure of £87,000 for an ambassadorial residence at Paris; £90,000 for that at Constantinople; £10,000 for a chapel at Paris, and other items Why, Sir, is the hon. Gentleman aware that every one of those items is dependent upon the annual Vote of Parliament? It is in fact in the fixed part of the expenditure of the Foreign Office which is thrown on the Consolidated Fund — the salaries and pensions—that the most careful economy is displayed; while those very charges which the hon. Gentleman brought under its notice as points of extravagance, are those very items which are annually submitted to the House, and the expediency of allowing which it is open at any time to any hon. Gentleman to question. But, Sir, I ask whether our experience of annual grants is not that year after year they have a tendency to expand, and whether it is not the fact that many an annual grant which in its origin was insignificant —or at least trifling—has, owing to the way in which the Estimates are voted in this House, become so large that it has been the subject of general attention and animadversion? So far from increasing economy by obtaining additional control over the expenditure for diplomatic services, which is the course recommended by the hon. Gentleman, experience shows that it would be likely to lead to the most extravagant expenditure. The hon. Gentleman has referred to one subject of considerable importance. He has stated that the result of bringing the question of the salaries of the diplomatic service under the control of Parliament would be, that it would be perfectly within the power of the House to discontinue certain small missions, more particularly those in the smaller German States. He stated that he thought all our relations with Germany might be satisfactorily carried on by Ministers at Berlin, at Frankfort, and at Vienna. Now, upon that point I will quote the opinion of 1512 the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston)—and I will say that whatever may be the opinion of hon. Gentlemen with respect to the general Foreign policy of the noble Lord, there is but one opinion in this House, that as regards everything concerning the administration of the Foreign Department, and particularly that portion of it to which the hon. Gentleman has drawn the attention of this House, there is no man in this country who is capable of giving so authoritative an opinion as that noble Lord, who has so long and so ably presided over the Foreign Office. The noble Lord in 1853 expressed his opinion in this House to this effect:—Having had several years' experience of these matters, be could assure the Committee of the value and importance of this means of diplomatic intercourse with the members of the German States, and that those means could not be supplied by our Minister at Frankfort, because he was accredited to the Diet there, and the representatives of those several Courts had no authority to deal with the general policy of their respective Courts, but were only charged with relation to the aggregate functions of the Germanic body. Besides, it was to be remembered that the smaller States often acted an important part in the affairs of Europe, and it often happened that we got important information through diplomatic intercourse with those States with regard to the proceedings of more important States."—[3 Hansard, exxvii. 460.]Now, I do not pretend myself to have much experience with reference to this matter; but what little I have leads me, especially with respect to the States of Germany, to agree most cordially in that opinion expressed by the noble Lord. The hon. Gentleman would be very much astonished if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wells (Sir W. Hayter) did not pay any attention to the vote of an individual Member of the House because he was not a frequent speaker or so important as some others. That, however, if I am rightly informed, is not the policy which is pursued by the right hon. Member for Wells; and in my opinion it would be the height of folly in any British Government to disregard the opinions and the policy of the minor Courts of Germany, when at Frankfort as individual members of the Diet they can exercise such an important influence. It is not at Frankfort that you can learn the opinions and policy of the smaller Principalities to which the hon. Gentleman has directed attention; that knowledge can only be acquired by direct intercourse carried on through the accredited representatives of the Sovereign. There 1513 is another point upon which I wish to say a few words. The hon. Gentleman thinks it desirable to bring the diplomatic establishments under the direct control of the House, because he says it would bring popular opinion to bear upon the subject; and that, having hitherto been the refuge of incompetent patricians, the diplomatic service would be thrown open to other classes of greater knowledge and ability. Now, I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman to state what he thinks of the present representatives of the Sovereign in foreign Courts. Who is our Minister at the Court of St. Petersburgh? Sir John Crampton, who is certainly not an incompetent patrician, but a man who has fairly earned the distinguished position he occupies, In Spain, our Minister is Mr. Buchanan—is he again an instance of patrician incompetence? Lord Stratford, our Minister in Turkey, I admit is a nobleman; but why is he so? He is a nobleman, because the brilliant services he has rendered to the country have raised him to that position. Who have we at Vienna? Sir Hamilton Seymour; and where will the hon. Gentleman find a more distinguished Member of the diplomatic service than that Gentleman: then Lord Cowley, our Ambassador at Paris, is a nobleman; but his peerage was conferred for diplomatic services rendered by the first Lord. Any attempt, therefore, to cast odium on the diplomatic service, by Baying that it is the refuge of incompetent patricians, and to upset a system established on the recommendation of a Committee of this House, after the greatest deliberation, on the plea of throwing it open to able plebeians—for that, I believe, is the term which the hon. Gentleman used—is, to say the open truth—and I do not mean to speak disrespectfully in the least — nothing more nor less than clap-trap, which I am sorry should have been used. Another advantage which the hon. Gentleman thinks would be gained, by bringing these appointments under the direct control and sanction of Parliament is, that the merits and sufficiency of any one of the Ambassadors might be brought under review, and that a ready means would thus he obtained of controlling the expenditure of the country in this department. It seems to me that nothing could have been more invidious, nothing more injurious to the public service than the adoption of such a line of argument. When we send a man to represent us at a foreign 1514 Court, we do so because he has distinguished himself by a particular knowledge of the bearings of questions likely to arise, and is presumed to have peculiar claims to public confidence and respect; but if, according to the proposition of the hon. Gentleman, the services, merits, and salaries, of our diplomatic agents are to be made year after year the subject of public discussion and objection in this House, I believe no more ready course can be taken to impair the efficiency of our diplomatic service and lower the position of those engaged in it. The hon. Gentleman stated, that it was not only to the smaller missions in Germany that he objected, but also to foreign missions to such States as Naples. I must frankly express my opinion, that the hon. Gentleman could not have referred to a more unfortunate illustration of his argument than that of the Neapolitan States, for I sincerely believe that, if at the time of the seizure of the Cagliari we had had a regular accredited representative at Naples, the whole course of events would have been altered; we should not have had to regret the lengthened imprisonment of our fellow-countrymen, and to regret equally, if not more, a state of circumstances which, up to the present moment, has tended to produce most embarrassing, if not most dangerous questions. For these reasons, which I have very shortly stated, I venture to hope that the House will not give their sanction to the Motion of the hon. Gentleman. If I do not follow him into the other subjects to which he has drawn the attention of the House; if I do not refer to the question of unpaid attachés; to that of the necessity of a training for the consular office; if I do not refer to the importance of the study of Oriental languages, or enter into a discussion with him as to the merits of our system as compared with that adopted by France, I beg to assure the hon. Gentleman that it is from no disrespect, from no wish to undervalue the importance of these questions, but simply because the Motion has reference solely to the payment of the salaries and pensions of Ambassadors, &c, and as to the expediency of placing the charge in the Estimates instead of upon the Consolidated Fund. I do not think that those other matters come within the scope of the Motion, or can be properly the subject of discussion under it, I hope that the House will refuse its assent to this proposition. I do not believe that it would conduce to greater efficiency or 1515 greater economy; and there are so many evils to which it would, in my opinion, be likely to conduce, that the House ought to pause before it introduces a change in the system under which services so important and so distinguished are rendered, and with reference to a department in respect to which this nation is as well, as efficiently, and as honestly served as any country in the world.
said, he could not consent to give a silent vote upon a subject of so much importance as that now under the consideration of the House. He saw no reason why the diplomatic expenditure should not be placed among the Estimates, so that it might be brought under the annual cognizance of Parliament. If it was necessary that our Ambassadors at foreign Courts should give expensive entertainments, and thus keep up the reputation of the country for hospitality, he would not begrudge the necessary funds; but as for maintaining what were called ambassadorial functions, he had been quite unable to discover any necessity for it whatever. In this age of telegraphs and railroads he could not but regard the diplomatic service in any other light than as a snug retreat admirably adapted for the scions of the aristocracy. He adopted the view taken by an ancient writer, who maintained that an Ambassador was "a man sent abroad to tell lies for the good of his country;" but we did not want anything of that kind. The appointments of Ambassadors at foreign Courts enabled them to get up quarrels, and when things had gone a certain length we sent out Envoys Extraordinary to make peace. The differences which last occurred between America and England arose from the fact that Mr. Crampton never read the despatch which he had received from the Earl of Clarendon. He had acted in utter ignorance of the facts and of the intentions of Ministers in this country, and hence the misunderstanding which so nearly embroiled two great nations in war. Then as regarded treaties, he should like to know when were treaties ever kept? It had been said by Voltaire, and with some truth, that the only treaty he had ever known to be kept was that in which the name of the Deity had not been invoked—namely, Penn's Treaty with the Indians. He should support the Motion, because he believed if the ambassadorial services were voted by Parliament in the 1516 Estimates, and the state of our diplomacy in every quarter brought annually in this way under the notice of the House, we should speedily got rid of that exclusive and aristocratic policy which was the curse of the country, the source of innumerable difficulties and of incalculable expense. He would, moreover, remind the House that it was the dictum of a Premier (the late Lord Melbourne) that, in order to secure perpetual peace, it was required only to shut up the Foreign Office.
§ MR. HORSMAN
said, he would not trespass long on the attention of the House, but he did not think they would be treating the subject with the respect due to its importance, if they did not express their opinions upon some of the points involved in the Motion of the hon. Member for Stafford. His hon. Friend had made a very simple proposal, which he (Mr. Horsman) considered it would be very difficult for the House upon any sound principle to refuse. That proposal was, that the same principle which had been so beneficially applied to our home expenditure should also be applied to our foreign expenditure, and that as the home expenditure came annually before the House of Commons, the same sound and wholesome principle should be adopted in regard to our foreign expenditure. The hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs (Mr. S. Fitz Gerald) had rested his opposition—which he (Mr. Horsman) confessed he heard with some regret and surprise—upon the Report of a Committee appointed nearly thirty years ago, and nominated, as he said, by the reformed House of Commons. Now, as the hon. Gentleman attached so much importance to a Report proceeding from a Committee of the reformed House of Commons, he begged to assure the hon. Gentleman that he was quite in error with regard to the source from which the Report emanated; and as it had, in fact, proceeded from a Committee of the unreformed House of Commons, he was bound to suppose that the hon. Gentleman would not attach any importance to it. The speech delivered by the hon. Member for Stafford was, it should be remembered, made after considerable experience and much consideration of the subject. He had illustrated it with great ability, and the hon. Gentleman opposite had made as good a reply as he could be expected to make to 1517 a speech in itself so unanswerable. Cut the hon. Gentleman had used similar arguments to those which were used in opposition to the changes made in the year 1831. Amongst the changes then made was one with reference to the payment of the great officers of State; and the Duke of Wellington in reference to the change, and using the same arguments of which the hon. Gentleman opposite had availed himself, declared that it would be dangerous and degrading to make the salaries of those persons dependent upon the caprice of Parliament. The hon. Gentleman opposite, following in the wake of the Duke, declared that it would be degrading to our Ambassadors to have their remuneration included in the annual Votes; but surely it would not be more degrading to them than to the hon. Gentleman himself, or to the First Minister of the Crown, whose salaries were voted annually. What, he asked, was the distinction between voting the salary of the Head of the Foreign Department, and that of the gentlemen nominated by that Minister? The objection, in his opinion, would not hold good for a moment, because experience showed that the House of Commons had never been niggardly in rewarding known and acknowledged services. Since the year 1831 the salaries of all the great officers of State had been annually voted by Parliament, and no inconvenience had arisen from the practice, neither had there been any reason to regret the change. On the contrary, there was, he believed, no class of public servants who felt that their salaries were safer than those who depended upon the Votes of that House. His hon. Friend the Member for Stafford had said that the system of keeping permanently from Parliament any circumstances connected with our foreign administration was unwholesome. He (Mr. Horsman) entirely agreed in that observation, as he considered that great injury arose, and much distrust was created, by the secrecy in which our foreign transactions were involved. Everybody would admit, that while diplomatic negotiations were being carried on, great injury might result to the public interest from publicity being given to them; but, on the other hand, under the present system our ignorance with respect to foreign affairs was, he thought, inconsistent with the principles of constitutional government There were diplomatic transactions which had been carried on for years, but which never met the eye of any one out of the 1518 Foreign Office. The arguments used by the hon. Gentleman opposite in favour of the principle of secrecy might have been equally well applied thirty, forty, or fifty years ago. In this respect, at least, we had made no progress and no improvement. He was of opinion that the same principle of improvement which had been carried out at home of late years should also be applied to our administration abroad. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Fitz-Gerald) had read to the House rather unnecessarily the names of four or five eminent diplomatic servants; but his hon. Friend the 11 ember for Stafford had no wish to impugn the character of our agents abroad— he merely said, and truly enough, that while foreign governments had men trained and educated for this special service, this country took no pains to secure the requisite attainments. There were, it was true, high political and personal morality, and great integrity of character, among our diplomatic officers, which served as a safeguard; hut they had not those special attainments which were found in the diplomatic servants of other Governments—they had not even in many instances a knowledge of the language of the countries to which they were accredited. For these reasons he thought the House ought to feel indebted to the hon. Member for Stafford for the pains with which he had addressed himself to the subject. It was only occasionally, and, as it were, by a lucky accident, that the House was enabled to penetrate the mystery in which our foreign relations were enshrouded; and if the House did not avail itself of the opportunities thus afforded, it would be impossible to make any progress in the reform of our foreign administration. Holding these views, he tendered his personal thanks to the hon. Member, and he hoped the House would not concur in the objections taken by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, which were not based upon sound or constitutional principles, and which he did not think had been supported with anything like solid argument.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I wish to state very briefly the reasons which will prevent me from concurring in the Motion of the hon. Member for Stafford; and I trust that the House, in dealing with this question, will not found its decision upon any preconceived opinions or upon any party views, but will regard the subject simply as one involving a material point of national importance. It is upon that 1519 ground only that I wish to address to the House a few observations. In the first place, I must remark that the Motion tends to reverse a decision which was adopted deliberately by this House after full consideration, as to the manner in which diplomatic salaries and retired pensions should be paid. It is, I think, incumbent upon those who propose to alter that arrangement to show that public inconvenience arises from it, and that public advantage will accrue from the change which is recommended. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Horsman) has said that the hon. Gentleman opposite, who has opposed the Motion (Mr. S. FitzGerald), did not rest his objection upon any constitutional grounds. Now, I do rest my objection to it upon constitutional grounds. My hon. Friend (Mr. Wise) diverged in his speech far beyond the limits of his announced Motion—he wandered into topics upon which those who were prepared to resist his proposal have had no opportunity of informing themselves, so as to be able to deal with the very extensive range of his observations. One of the main arguments of the hon. Gentleman, and which has been repeated by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Horsman), and which we have often heard, is, in my opinion, founded upon a complete fallacy—namely, an objection to what is called the secret system of diplomacy. My hon. Friend (Mr. Wise) desires that the diplomatic transactions of the Government should be brought under the constant supervision of this House. Now, I hold that to be a most unconstitutional doctrine, and one totally at variance with the interests of the country. There appears to me to be no medium between those two courses: Parliament must either place confidence in the responsible Ministers of the Crown with regard to our foreign relations, holding those Ministers answerable for the result of their conduct of such relations; or it must appoint a Standing Committee of diplomatic relations, and thus take the administration of those affairs into its own hands. It is almost unnecessary for me to say that the latter course would be neither consistent with the principles of our constitution nor compatible with its interests. Why, there could not by any possibility be a worse machine for conducting diplomatic transactions than a popular assembly. Two rations whose diplomatic relations were conducted by popular assemblies would inevitably be involved in perpetual difficulties and disputes. We had an instance of 1520 this not many years ago in the case of France and America. A question arose between the Governments of those two great countries; that question was taken up by the popular assemblies on both sides of the Atlantic; and had it not been for most earnest exertions on the part of friendly powers, a very serious rupture might have occurred between the two nations. When the secrecy of diplomacy is objected to, I would quote the admission of my right hon. Friend who last addressed the House, that while diplomatic transactions are in progress, it is impossible that they should be made public. How, then, is this House, whose transactions must be public, to deal with diplomatic relations? If the doctrine of my right hon. Friend is just—and just it is—that diplomatic transactions must, as a matter of obvious State necessity, be secret until a result is arrived at, we all know that under the present system the result of diplomatic arrangements is always made public. When the result is attained, Parliament has the power —and the exercise of that power is its constant practice—of calling upon Ministers to afford information with regard to questions of national interest, and to lay upon the table the papers necessary to enable it to understand the details of a particular transaction. We need not go further than a recent event for an illustration of this fact. I will venture to say, that if there had been at the present moment a popular assembly in France, exercising the same right of political discussion with regard to public affairs which takes place in this House, the recent occurrences would have led to a very different state of relations between England and France from that which now happily exists. I say, then, that the proposal of my hon. Friend to transfer these charges to annual Votes, instead of leaving them upon the Consolidated Fund, and thus to give Parliament the opportunity of detailed and constant intervention in the transactions connected with our diplomatic relations, would lead to consequences which I think there might be great reason to regret—would tend to the disturbance of all order, and to the constant disquietude of our foreign relations. My hon. Friend, going far beyond the limits of his Motion, dilated at great length upon Votes of this House for diplomatic expenses, which he considered to have been improvident and extravagant; and he then argued that because he had shown that the House of Commons, by its annual 1521 Votes, had sanctioned expenditure which he thought improvident and unnecessary, a Resolution ought to be adopted transferring that portion of the diplomatic expenses now chargeable upon the Consolidated Fund to annual Votes, although, as he contended, the House had not exhibited a due regard to economy of the public money in assenting to such Votes. Why, my hon. Friend must either abandon his opinion, or he must admit that one portion of his arguments answers and refutes the others. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Horsman) says it would be no degradation to the diplomatic body if their salaries were voted by this House; and he observed that no degradation attached to Ministers of the Crown in whose case that course is pursued. In one respect I perfectly admit that my right hon. Friend is quite right in that opinion; and so far as regards the feeling and impression in this country, instead of being deemed a degradation, it may be rather satisfactory to any officers employed by the Crown that the salaries awarded to them should receive the annual sanction of Parliament. But as the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. S. FitzGerald) well observed, I think it would have an injurious effect on the position of our diplomatic relations generally, that the question of the salaries of our reprentatives abroad should be made the subject of an annual Vote by this House. The hon. Gentleman opposite evidently did not allude to the impression which such a practice would make here, but to the impression it would be likely to make abroad. I think it is manifest that such a system would impair and weaken the influence of our diplomatic servants abroad if every year the observations and criticisms, which would no doubt occasionally arise in respect to those salaries, were to be published in the newspapers, and to be read at those Courts where our representatives resided. He must be a. fortunate diplomatist who succeeds in performing his duties without giving unintentional offence to some of his wandering countrymen that are to be found in the different cities on the Continent. A traveller whom he had, perhaps, unintentionally offended would be sure to write home a volume of abuse to some Member of this House, who, knowing nothing more of the matter than what he reads in the letter, would nevertheless feel it his duty when the Estimates came on to repeat in the House all the criticisms and fault-finding which were contained in the written com- 1522 munication. The diplomatist whose conduct was impugned would have no opportunity of defending himself, and the Ministers of the Crown in this country could not know whether there was or was not any foundation for the charges; but these charges would go forth to the Court at which the diplomatic agent was stationed, and must tend to lower him in the estimation of the society in which he moved, and with the Court to which he was accredited, and must impair his means of rendering useful public services. I need not refer to the other objection, that those who were dissatisfied with the political action of a particular Minister would naturally, when his salary came to be voted, express their opinions upon his conduct, and that is, I think, a strong reason for not adopting the Motion of my hon. Friend. Having had considerable experience with regard to questions of this kind, I do entreat and conjure the House not to sanction a proposal which, I believe, would be attended with most serious and injurious consequences to the public interests as connected with our foreign relations. I will not follow the hon. Gentleman into many of the topics not immediately connected with the Motion which he introduced into his speech; but I may make one observation. We have been told that this House ought to do certain things because they are done by other countries. Now, I think that argument falls short of a legitimate conclusion. Those who tell us that the arrangements which exist in other countries ought to be introduced in our own should prove that such arrangements are more beneficial than those which we have already adopted. My hon. Friend has used an argument on this subject which I think is somewhat contradictory. In the first place he would reduce very materially the salaries, and impair therefore the position of the missions and embassies that we have abroad. And then, on the other hand, he says that the diplomatic service ought to be improved and reformed; that young men ought to be induced to enter into it with an expectation of promotion. So that while, on the one hand, he wants to bring young men in with this expectation, on the other hand he advises us to diminish their temptation to enter by rendering the chief positions such that it would answer no man's purpose to fill them with the salaries which he wishes to confine them to. It was stated by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. S. FitzGerald) that, so far from the diplomatic 1523 service having been prodigally administered, there was a limit of expenditure which could not be exceeded. In fact, it will be found that many of those who hold offices under this department are obliged to economies their expenses to the amount of the salary attached to their office. That, in itself, I think, is a sufficient proof that the Foreign Office has limited the expenses of those functionaries to a reasonable amount. And I would ask, which department is the most able to judge what is the proper salary to be paid to Ministers—that department which is in daily correspondence with such Ministers, and which knows all the circumstances on which the decision as to the amount of salary depends; or this House, which cannot by possibility possess the requisite information? It is perfectly clear that it is the responsible Government alone which ought to be left to determine the amount of the salary in each post, varying that salary according to circumstances, and according to what they consider should be the proper amount for each specific place. My hon. Friend says there ought to be a fusion of the diplomatic and consular appointments. To a certain extent that has taken place—not that there are instances, as far as I remember, of consuls being brought into diplomatic situations; but there are many cases in which men have been transferred from diplomatic to consular appointments, where the functions of those consular appointments have partaken in some degree of a diplomatic character. I will not, however, weary the House by dwelling upon details which are, perhaps, more suitable for the consideration of a Committee upstairs; but I entreat the House not hastily and rashly to agree to a Resolution which, in my humble opinion, founded on considerable experience, I think would be extremely detrimental to the interests of the public service.
§ MR. KINNAIRD
said, that it might be presumption in him to attempt to answer the noble Lord, but he hoped that his noble Friend would not be dissuaded by the arguments of the noble Lord from taking a division. The noble Lord founded his opposition to the Motion on constitutional grounds. Why, if the expense of the consular establishments were submitted to the House in the Estimates, should there not be Votes for the diplomatic service? He thought that neither the Government nor the noble Lord had answered his hon. Friend. His hon. Friend had 1524 been accused of bringing forward extraneous matter in making his Motion; but he was sure that when the speech of his hon. Friend was read out of doors the country would feel that they owed a deep debt of gratitude to him for the information he had brought forward. He should cordially support the Motion.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
I think, with regard to the particular Motion before us, the answer of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. S. FitzGerald) proved that, in all probability, if these Votes were submitted to the consideration of the House instead of being paid out of the Consolidated Fund, it would tend rather to confusion than to economy. I believe that to be a sound argument, and I am therefore contented with the present mode of paying the salaries of Ministers. At the same time I do not like to vote, as I shall vote, against the Motion of my hon. Friend without saying that I think there are many of his observations, having no immediate reference to this Motion, which are well worthy of attention. In the first place, with regard to the service itself, I think the plan of having unpaid attachés is a bad system, inconsistent with our usual practice, and that every person who enters the service (perhaps he should not be admitted so young as is at present the case) should have a certain salary apportioned to his position and duties. In the second place, it seems to me that it would be useful to have a general revision of our diplomatic services; for while, on the one hand, there are men in high posts who do not receive salaries proportionate to the stations which they occupy, there are posts or many minor places which might well be abolished. The result of such a revision might not be to effect any great economy, but I think the service generally would be the better for it. In the last place, although I do not agree with all that my hon. Friend has urged upon the subject, I think if diplomatic papers were more frequently submitted to the House of Commons, that, instead of being injurious they would be useful to the public service; because very often false rumours are current which might be removed by the production of those papers. While, therefore, I shall think it my duty on these grounds to vote against the Motion, I must say that my thanks are due to my hon. Friend for the important subjects which he has brought under our consideration.
§ Question put.1525
§ The House divided: Ayes 114; Noes 142: Majority 28.