HC Deb 18 July 1859 vol 154 cc1428-30

brought up the Report of the Committee of Supply.

On the Vote for defraying the salaries and expenses in the Office of Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues, amounting, together with £10,000 voted on account last Session, to £23,514,


said, he wished to draw attention to the expenditure of that department of the Woods and Forests. This was the only department in the public service which had the power to lay out large sums of money without the previous sanction of that House. The gross revenue that passed into the hands of the authorities of the department was about £400,000 a year, and they expended between £80,000 and £90,000 annually on a variety of works for which they had no sanction whatever from Parliament. That was a state of things so unsatisfactory that he was in hopes Government would have dealt with this Department as they had with every other, and demanded that it should submit an estimate of its expenditure to Parliament from time to time. He would therefore suggest that this Vote should not be confirmed till a full statement of their ex- penditure was laid on the table by the Woods and Forests.


said, he had called the attention of the House to this subject last year, but he did not receive such encouragement as to induce him to do so again this Session. As the question had been taken up by another hon. Member, however, he wished to point out that this Vote did not include anything like the whole expenditure of the department. There was a double office, in which the expenditure was contracted. The Commissioners were paid salaries for the work they did, but they committed the details to a surveyor, at a salary almost equal to that of a Cabinet Minister.


said, the Vote before the House was simply for the official establishment and nothing else. It had nothing to do with the management of the Crown property. The Committee on Public Moneys last year considered the question whether the revenues of this Department could not be brought under the supervision of Parliament like other descriptions of revenue; but they came to the conclusion that under the arrangement existing between Parliament and the Crown it could not be done. The next best thing was done, however, An annual statement of the income and expenditure of the Woods and Forests was annually laid before Parliament.


said, he must reiterate the complaint which he had made on Friday night that sufficient time had not been granted to the House to examine the Civil Service Estimates. No less than fifty-seven Votes, embracing a sum of £3,000,000, were passed without almost a. comment, notwithstanding a declaration made at the outset of the debate that not a single Member had been able to make himself acquainted with the details of those Estimates. Such a course, if persevered in, must tend, he thought, to destroy confidence in the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and to lead to a repetition of the unpleasant consequences which the noble Lord had already experienced. He wanted to know why the salaries which were to be covered by the present Vote were not paid like others out of the estates of the Crown. He believed that those estates, if properly managed, would be equal to any demands that could legitimately be made upon them, and thereby relieve the general taxation of the country to a proportionate extent. They would be amply sufficient to defray the £385,000 paid annually to Her Majesty out of the Civil List.


said, if the salary of the surveyor was equal to the amount which had been mentioned, it was a great waste of the public money.

Resolutions agreed to.

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