§ House in Committee.
§ (20.) £520,129, Disembodied Militia.
drew attention to the want of rifle ranges for the Militia; and he also suggested that some increase was desirable in the amount allowed for "lodging money for sergeant-majors and quartermasters.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
stated, that he had not yet been able to make any change in the position of militia surgeons. In Ireland their case seemed harder than it was in this country. Here the headquarters were generally at some large town, where there was a good private practice to be got; but in Ireland the head-quarters were more often in some insignificant place, which did not afford the militia surgeons the same advantages. If, in another year, he could do anything to improve their condition, he should be glad to do so. With respect to Militia ranges, the Government had been endeavouring in this country to combine the ranges of the Militia, the regular forces, and the Volunteers. Where the Volunteers had procured a range, they had been offered a rent for the use of it, and it was hoped in this way that a mutual arrangement would be made. In some places, however—for instance, in a country much enclosed, and where land was of great value—it would be impossible to provide ranges. It would be an advantage to have a musketry instructor separately in each regiment, and he hoped to be able to effect that. Whether non commissioned or commissioned officers should be employed was a question which would have to be decided. The only changes in the Estimates before the Committee were a reduction in the salary of the inspector, who was put on the same footing as a Deputy-Adjutant General; and the adoption of the recommendations of the Commission of last year, namely, that the non-commissioned officers on the permanent Staff should in future draw the same rates as were paid during embodiment. The demand for non-com- 1490 missioned officers was now so great, owing to their services being secured by the Volunteers, that, in order to keep men in the regiments, it was necessary to give them better pay than before.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (21.) £380.355, Fortifications.
SIR FREDERIC SMITH
said, he rose to express his general concurrence in the Estimate of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, though there were some items to which he took exception. TliU3 at Dovor £70,000 was to be spent in the present year in improving the defences, the total estimated cost being £280,000, and the further amount required to complete the work was £70,500. Now the Commissioners on the National Defences said that if there were no works of defence or military establishments at Dovor already, it would become a question whether that place should or should not be fortified. If they had come to such a decision it was marvellous that the Government should propose to lay out such a sum as now contemplated upon the defences there. No man could suppose that the point of landing selected by a hostile army would be anywhere near Dovor. It was said that the harbour was an attraction, hut, if so, the Government had made it an attraction. Naval men declared generally, that it was and would be a bad harbour after all. However, as the Government appeared to think the works essential he should offer no opposition to the item as they could not be left in their present unfinished state; hut he protested against any extension. The works at Stokes Bay were most important, and should he carried out at once. They were estimated to cost £90,000. Only £15,000 was asked for this year, and the balance of £78,000 was to be expended in future years. He thought that those works should be completed at once. Then as to the works at Southsea, a portion of the cost of which was asked for this year, he strongly advised that they should be completed at once, and then the line of the Solent would be completely guarded. The defences for commercial harbours ought also to be completed without delay, and if that were done there would be no lack of Volunteer Artillerymen to man these coast batteries, which they would do very efficiently. With regard to Malta, he thought that any expenditure to put that place in a state of complete defence would be money well laid out, for Malta would be a most important 1491 point in ease of a war between this country and any foreign Power. He took that opportunity of repudiating an opinion that had been ascribed to him upon a former occasion by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, to the effect that two trained gunners were sufficient for each gun. He thought there should be at least six, especially for sea batteries, where celerity of fire was essential. He wished to know whether the plans of the Commissioners would be speedily published, and whether the House would have an opportunity of seeing them before they separated.
paid, he wished to ask where were they going to end in this matter of fortifications. The other day he was one of a minority of 39 against 263, on the Vote of £2,000,000 for fortifications, and that night they had an Estimate of £70,000 more. Had the hon. and gallant Officer divided the Committee he would have gone with him. Considering the large Vote of the other night, and considering the opinion of the Royal Commissioners with regard to Dovor, he was at a loss to know for what they wanted this Vote. That France or any other nation would invade England, a free country, with 250,000 men, was the grossest absurdity that ever entered the brain of man: but if there was an invasion the very last, place that would be thought of for landing would be Dovor. Did they intend to fortify the 300 miles of coast which the Commissioners told them were still undefended? Were they going to fortify England round about? The whole cry was, "Fortify, fortify, fortify." It was to prevent the fear of invasion, the rumours of invasion, that they were to spend all this money. He ventured to prophesy that before twelve or eighteen months from the present time there would be a great reaction. Before eighteen months they would have a cutting down of their ships of war and of their army, and a stoppage of those Votes, and they would, perhaps, become more extravagant in their extreme economy than now in their extreme expenditure. He begged of the Government to think of the people who were so heavily taxed for little or no good.
§ MR. WARRE
reminded the Committee that the invasion of this country was an object always very near the heart of the French people. In the year 1797 the French succeeded in landing 1,100 men under General Humbert in Ireland, who, how- 1492 ever, escaped back with great difficulty. Our chances against invasion were much better since the invention of steam than they were before. He was old enough to recollect the days of menaced invasion, and the value that was then placed upon early information as to what was or was not to he done was very great. Our means of acquiring information from all parts of the world had vastly improved since that, time, consequently there was not much danger of any sudden invasion of our shores. Without undervaluing those advantages, the gallantry of our people and their stubborn determination to resist to the last any attack made upon them, he nevertheless thought that it was possible for the enemy to throw some 20,000 or 30,000 men upon our coast if it were to he left still in its present defenceless state. This Vote then he considered as a move in the right direction, and he would give it his cordial support.
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
said, the question was not one of money but of security. It was idle to talk of pounds, shillings, and pence when such vast interests were at stake. The hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Lindsay) had made a prophecy, Now, seeing that the hon. Gentleman was not a great military or naval authority, be thought he might have spoken with a little less positiveness as to the state of things that time twelve months. No one knew what might happen in that time, but looking at the present state of Europe he suspected that in twelve months the hon. Member would not speak with quite much confidence on this subject. With regard to Dovor, the Commissioners had not, perhaps, made a very judicious remark when they said it was doubtful whether, if works did not exist at Dovor, it would be desirable now to construct them. But the works were there, and when hon. Members asked triumphantly whether it would be likely the French would disembark at Dovor, he thought it not improbable they might be disposed to land 5,000 or 10,000 men there, in order by that means to command the Channel. Dovor would be very important to an army of invasion if they could get hold of it. He regretted that the works were so extensive on the western side; but the absurdity about the matter was that so commanding a height had been left so long without some fortification. Every one scouted the notion of fortifying the whole coast; but there were three or four arsenals that required some additional 1493 fortification. Portland, no doubt, was a very important harbour, but there was some extravagance in the proposals for fortifying it. It was proposed to construct a great tower, with three tiers of guns, at the head of the pier, which was to cost £200,000, and mount 100 guns. He thought that instead of three tiers one or two tiers, with 40 or 50 guns at the most, would be ample. He agreed that Ports-down Hill ought not to left without defence. With the present range of artillery it was quite clear that if any disembarcation took place the French might get on that hill and destroy the arsenal. This hill was, however, defensible with a small force. He suggested that six or eight batteries of Armstrong 12-pounders should DO substituted for the 226 heavy guns which had, with great want of judgment, been proposed to be placed on Portsdown Hill. Heavy guns were by no means convenient for such a position, and besides the number recommended would require a greater force to man them than, in case of an invasion, could be spared. He advised also that as a matter of economy the troops should be employed to a greater extent on these works. The want of practice in such employment was a great drawback to the men when they took the field. If 2,000 or 3,000 of the troops in garrison at Portsmouth were removed from the unwholesome atmosphere and immoral company of that town, and encamped on the top of the hill for five or six months every year, there to be employed, under the guidance of competent persons, on the works, it would be a great saving to the country and a great benefit to the men.
stated that the soldiers at Portsmouth were already so overworked that they were in bed only three nights a week. He did not think, however, that, as a rule, soldiers should be employed on such works as the gallant General proposed.
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
admitted that the gallant Officer had given a valid objection to his proposal in the case of Portsmouth garrison, but perhaps other troops might be spared for the purpose.
§ MR. DODSON
asked what conclusion had been drawn from the recent experiment of firing an Armstrong gun against one of the Martello towers?
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, he could not say at present what deduction was to be drawn from the experiment in question. As to the works of Dovor, he 1494 should be willing to rest their defence upon the arguments of the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster. Sir John Burgoyne said, with great truth, that Dovor was a strategetical point in the defence of the kingdom of great value, where a vast deal of good and useful work was already accomplished, and where but a little more remained to be done to render it complete and effective. Nothing could be more unwise than to leave a work, which might so readily be made powerful, feeble and incomplete. The gallant Officer the Member for Chatham (Sir Frederic Smith) said it would be better to spend a large sum on these works at once, and get them completed off hand. That was exactly what was done by the Fortifications Bill. He could not describe the nature of the detailed plans of the fortifications. The Commission had given a general outline of them. He had arranged that after a working Committee had drawn up the plans, they should be submitted first to a number of experienced officers and to the Defence Committee, and that they should then be returned to Sir John Burgoyne for his final sanction and approval. The greatest care would be taken that the work should be done in the most efficient way. He agreed with the gallant General that there should be a mixed armament of light and heavy guns on Portsdown Hill. Additional sums had been taken under the Fortifications Bill for many of the purposes included in this Vote. The works at Portland had been sanctioned by Parliament some time back. It was proposed originally to have a battery there at the end of the breakwater, at the cost of £120,000. Subsequently, however, it was considered advisable to reduce that amount. Ships taking refuge there were generally such as were enabled to defend themselves. Some earthworks were to be constructed at the right of the breakwater, and on the western side a line of defences.
said, that there was in the Vote an estimate for the purchase of land at Alderney. He was sorry to find that the fortifications there were to be extended, as be believed they were a mistake, and that it would require 10,000 men to garrison the island. Indeed, he believed that all those fortifications proceeded on a fallacy. It was assumed that they would enable the country to dispense with a number of soldiers, whereas he was told by eminent military authorities that they would render a larger force necessary. With re- 1495 gard to the Martello towers, he was told last year, when he was down at Eastbourne, that the tower there had recently been repaired, but that the contractor deferred it till he had no other work; that in consequence the outer face of masonry was run up in the frost, and the effect was that, as his informant told him, you might kick it down. He hoped the fortifications that were now to be erected would be of a more substantial character.
§ LORD HOTHAM
asked whether the Government intended to proceed with the works for strengthening the defences at the mouth of the Humber? Hull was the emporium of the commerce between this country and the north of Europe, and, with the exception of Liverpool and London, it was by far the port of largest trade in the kingdom. He hoped, therefore, no time would be lost in proceeding with these works.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, that in this country people, so far from thinking they ought to make sacrifices to assist in a public object, seemed to conspire to make the purchase of land as expensive as possible. The Government were obliged to resist. Legal gentlemen intervened, and they did not hasten matters. He did hope, however, that they should secure a site at Hull, and at once proceed to put works upon it. With respect to the observations of the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Coningham), he had never maintained that fortifications required fewer men, but that to carry on war without fortifications would require more men. There was no theory which could not be treated with ridicule by those who were opposed to it, and no truth which could not be called a fallacy by those who disagreed with it. As to the story picked up at Eastbourne, many builders found that they commenced works too late in the season, and in these accounts there was always a great deal of exaggeration. With regard to Alderney, the fortifications were almost completed, and the money was for the purchase of land which it was important the Government should possess, t would be nearer the mark to say the garrison must be 3,000; it would certainly not require 10,000 men.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, they had recently had a celebrated and friendly letter from the Emperor of the French, showing that he had an army only of 400,000 men. [An HON. MEMBER: But who believes it— 1496 do you?] This country had 323,000 men who knew the use of arms. There was in addition the Irish constabulary, and he might say the whole force was 400,000 men, which could be greatly increased. The force which this country depended upon was the navy, and the navy was treated as if it had no existence in these discussions. He thought the idea of invasion absurd, and that the fortifications would require an increase of the standing army. He agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland in regarding these defensive fortifications on land as a complete waste of money. An opinion had been given by a gentleman of great experience, that, in the event of actual invasion, the most prudent thing we could do would be to blow up all our forts, and concentrate our troops for the purpose of resistance in the field.
§ Vote agreed to; as were also the following Votes:—
§ (22.) £277,547, Educational and Scientific Branches.
§ (23.) £25,390, Rewards for Military Services.
§ (24.) £75,860, General Officers.
§ (25.) £492,357, Reduced and Retired Officers.
§ (26.) £184,523, Pensions to Widows, &c.
§ (27.) £44,123, Pensions, &c, for Wounds.
§ (28.) £30,638, Chelsea and Kilmainham Hospitals.
expressed his opinion that pensions ought to be granted to all men who, having passed a medical examination, were afterwards disabled by wounds or loss of health. He also called attention to the anomalous position in which barrack masters were placed, being entitled to pensions neither as military nor civil officers, and hoped that their case would be favourably considered.
§ Vote agreed to, as were also—
§ (29.) £1,144,895, Out-Pensioners of Chelsea Hospital.
§ (30.) £136,837, Superannuation and Retired Allowances.
(31.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £3,750, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray a portion of the Expenses of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England, to the 31st day of March, 1861.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, the Committee had been engaged with the consideration of this Vote at the morning sitting, and he objected to it because the circumstance of 1497 the recent grant of £2,000 a year to the Dean of York showed that the Commissioners were prepared to dispose of the public money without any sense of responsibility. On the death of the late Dean of York, in 1858, an estimable gentleman and the son of a noble Lord—himself possessed of an ample fortune—was appointed his successor. At that time the public were under the impression that it was not in the power of the Commissioners to increase the income beyond £1,000 a year, legal opinions to that effect having been obtained, although it now appeared that conflicting opinions had since been given. That the present Dean did not expect the larger salary was shown by the fact that on three occasions he had written to request that it might be made up to £1,000 a year. The Deans of Wells and Salisbury, however, in the month of February, 1859, addressed a memorial to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, in which they set forth reasons why their incomes should be increased, and it was remarkable that application was based, not on spiritual, but on purely secular grounds. They held it to be "inexpedient that ecclesiastical dignities should be so slenderly endowed as to render them tenable only by men of independent fortune;" and, secondly, they complained that they were "unable adequately to maintain their position, owing to their income having been reduced so much below that of their predecessors." Not a word was said about the duties which they had to perform. The Dean of York wrote at the foot of the memorial appended his entire concurrence in its prayer "on public grounds, and as a matter of principle;" but so little expectation had he of the increase being offered to himself, that in October of last year he again made application to the Commission, asking that his salary might he made up to £1,000. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners, however, drew up a scheme with the object of increasing those incomes, but by a most extraordinary proceeding the amounts were not filled in, but were left in blank. At a subsequent meeting of the Commission, when there was a much smaller attendance of members, the scheme of £1,000 a year was approved; hut instead of acquiescing in that arrangement, the ecclesiastical dignitaries in the Commission met again in November, and insisted that the subject should be reconsidered. Accordingly, they referred it to a Committee, which made a report; they next invoked 1498 the assisance of the Secretary of State, and at last, in January of the present year, the common seal was affixed to a scheme by which the Dean of York was to receive £2,000 per annum. Subsequently, when they consulted counsel, they found that the scheme was retrospective, and that the Dean ought to receive the increased salary from the death of his predecessor. The Commissioners, in acting thus, had been guilty of such a gratuitous casting away of public money upon a gentleman who neither desired, expected, nor wanted it, in order to carry out the principle of endowing the dignitaries of the Church with the largest possible sums, that It was the duty of the Committee to see whether it was necessary to grant any funds from the public treasury in aid of the operations of such a body. While they were encouraged by the Government to revel in the funds of the Church the House of Commons ought to endeavour to put some check upon their proceedings by refusing to vote money for the maintenance of their establishment.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he was surprised that the Government should have proposed the present Vote. When the Vote for the rent of the offices occupied by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners was under discussion, the Home Secretary distinctly stated that no further sum would be required. Here, however, was a Vote of £3,750 to defray the expenses cast upon the Ecclesiastical Commissioners by the Church Building Acts. When the Church Building Commissioners were in existence they had some duties to perform, but those duties had entirely ceased. He should take the sense of the Committee upon the Vote.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, that if this was intended as a vote of censure on the Ecclesiastical Commission for raising the stipend of the Dean of York it would have been better to have brought it forward as a specific Motion, because hon. Members could then give a distinct vote on the question. But by raising it in this indirect way in Committee of Supply it was not brought distinctly before the House, and some would give their votes on one ground and others on a different ground. The question now before the Committee was whether the faith of Parliament was pledged, as he maintained it was, to the payment of a certain sum of money for defraying the expenses of the Church Building Acts. Those Acts were still in force, 1499 there were substantial' duties to be performed in connection with them, and there was also an Act which said that the expenses were to be defrayed out of money to be voted by Parliament. The Government were prepared not to propose any additional Vote for the expenses of the Ecclesiastical Commission, as far as the proper business of the Commission was concerned; but it appeared on examination that there were duties cast upon them which necessitated a considerable addition to their establishment, and which were independent of the administration of their own funds. Under these circumstances the Government thought it their duty to propose this Vote, and he hoped the Committee would assent to it. The hon. Member for Pontefract said in the morning sitting that Government had promised that a Vote would not be proposed for the expenses of the Ecclesiastical Commission this Session, but on referring to the usual records of their proceedings, he found in the Report of the debates for July 24, that he distinctly stated this very Vote would be proposed later in the Session, and that it would be grounded on the expenses cast on the Ecclesiastical Commission by the Chinch Building Acts. His hon. Friend, therefore, must have made some mistake.
§ SIR WILLIAM JOLLIFFE
said, his vote would depend upon the truth of a report which had reached him that the salaries of the officers of the Commission had been considerably raised—from the highest to the lowest he understood that there had been an enormous increase of salary, and if so, he wished to know where that increase came from. Did Church property supply the advance in these salaries, or was it to come out of the Vote before the Committee? If it were not supplied by that Vote it would seem as if those gentlemen paid themselves. If so, the funds which were intended to increase the incomes of the working clergy had been diverted for enlarging the salaries of the officials and for increasing the income of deans. If there were extra duties to be performed that might be a reason for additional remuneration being granted, but the funds of the Church ought to be under better supervision.
§ MR. EDWIN JAMES
said, that the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Monckton Milnes) who was unable to be in his place, had forwarded to him a statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Wal- 1500 pole) upon the Vote of £680, which was quite distinct as to the withdrawl of this Vote. The right hon. Gentleman was reported in The Times of July 23 to have said:—About £3,600 was taken annually in Votes for the Ecclesiastical Commission, but that sum was now removed from the Votes. Therefore, the £080 for rent was only providing so much of the guaranteed expense of carrying out the Church Building Act as was necessary for defraying the rent of the House required for the purposes of the Act.It appeared that the Commissioners themselves had had some doubt as to the propriety of asking for this Vote, because there was appended to it a note,—Doubts having arisen with regard to the propriety of again submitting to Parliament an estimate for the Ecclesiastical Commission, the following correspondence is appended in explanation of the proposed Vote.If his hon. Friend the Member for Lambeth divided the Committee upon this Vote, he should certainly go into the same lobby with him.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
remarked that in the proceedings as reported of the previous debate, it appeared to have been distinctly stated that the most convenient mode of discussing the question raised by his hon. Friend would be to wait till the Estimate for the Ecclesiastical Commission came under consideration. He could give no explanation of the raising of the salaries of the officers of the Commission, but he apprehended it was competent to the Commissioners to regulate the salaries of their own officers. The demand now made upon the Committee was to compensate the Commissioners for the duties they performed under the Church Building Act.
§ MR. MELLOR
said, he should not give his vote on an understanding of what had taken place on a previous occasion, but he thought if ever they were justified in refusing a Vote they were justified in so doing on the present occasion by the conduct of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. It would be monstrous if, under the circumstances, the House of Commons should agree to this Vote.
§ SIR WILLIAM JOLLIFFE
said, it was true that the Commissioners had increased duties thrust upon them, but they had already remunerated the officers under them for those duties, and, besides that, they had voted sums to persons who had not even asked for them, and did not want 1501 them, while they refused to do anything for necessitous clergymen.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, that if the Committee refused this £3,500, the expense of carrying out the Church Building Act would have to be thrown on the common fund of the Ecclesiastical Commission—a fund already appropriated by law, which ought no more to be charged with this burden than the coal duties or any other fund. Even if the salaries of the secretaries and clerks had been unduly-raised, the money did not come out of the public taxes, and it would not be just to disallow this Vote. Did hon. Gentlemen think it desirable to establish a separate Commission, and to take a separate Vote for the execution of the Church Building Acts? Some might suppose that the duties of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were not rightly performed, but they were certainly laborious, and those who did the work were surely entitled to their hire. The stipend of the Dean of York had been raised to an equality with that of the Dean of Canterbury, but it entailed no additional burden on the country, coming as it did out of the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commission. The executive Government was not properly responsible for that increase in the Dean's stipend; but as it required the confirmation of an Order in Council, probably no further augmentation of it would take place. He hoped the Committee would not be induced to reject this Vote by the very persuasive eloquence of the hon. Member for Lambeth.
said, that if the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had done wrong in increasing the Dean of York's stipend, in raising the salaries of their staff, or in the expenditure of the funds intrusted to them for other purposes, let them by all means be called over the coals for it, and censured in a direct and straightforward manner. They would then know what they had to meet, and if they could not make out a good defence, let them bear the brunt of their misdeeds. He for one' would never attempt to shield them. But the truth was all that had nothing whatever to do with this question. A distinct bargain had been made with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners when they were to do the work of the Church Building Commissioners that Parliament should pay them the requisite sum for doing it. On that ground he must support this Vote.
§ MR. FREELAND
said, he was anxious to receive some explanation with respect 1502 to a meeting of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners held in the month of June, 1859, upon the subject of a proposed increase in the stipends of the Deans of Salisbury, Wells, and York. It appeared that the meeting had been attended by the First Lord of the Treasury, the Secretary of State (it was not mentioned for which department), the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University, and his hon. Friend the Member for East Kent. It appeared, also, that after much discussion a division took place. He wished to know whether it was a fact, that in the important division referred to, all the Bishops and Deans voted one way, and all the lay Commissioners another?
SIR GEORGE LEWIS,
not having had notice of the question, could not undertake to say precisely what took place at a meeting held last year. He remembered that considerable discussion took place, and that the noble Lord at the head of the Government, together with himself and some of his Colleagues, who were against increasing the income of the deans, were in a minority.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he would refresh the memory of the right hon. Gentleman by reading the resolution of the meeting referred to, which was to the effect that a scheme should he prepared and submitted to the Queen in Council, for securing annual incomes of £1,500 to certains deans and blank sums to others. The Commissioners disposed of public funds apparently without responsibility; and the Ministers of the day being out-voted in the Commission could not control its expenditure. The Committee, by refusing to grant any money at all to such a body, would compel the Government to place its affairs on a better footing. It was rumoured that another department was about to be created, which, as it was not to be represented in that House, would be exempt from accountability for its conduct.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, it seemed to him that hon. Gentlemen who opposed the Vote were confounding the duties and functions of the Commissioners. The Vote was for performing different duties arising out of Acts of Parliament and which were unconnected with the duties, the neglect of which the hon. Member who opposed it alleged as the reason for his opposition; and the Vote which was now proposed, if negatived, would have no influence whatever upon the course which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners 1503 would pursue with regard to those matters.
§ MR. HADFIELD
reminded the Committee that the Church Building Commission had been abolished simply because it had nothing on earth to do. He contended they should have had a statement of how much of the expenses of the Ecclesiastical Commission had been occasioned by the Church Building Acts. If they had made work for themselves, it had been for no useful purpose whatever.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
stated that the opinion of the Treasury was that the Vote should be discontinued, and a communication had been made to that effect to the Home Office. He had inquired exactly as to the nature of the duties performed by the Ecclesiastical Commission, and the information given in detail was that one-fourth of the duties actually discharged in the office of the Ecclesiastical Commission was caused by the Church Building Acts. If any hon. Gentleman moved for a detailed statement, he would receive it.
§ MR. P. W. MARTIN
said, he hoped the Government would withdraw the Vote. It was quite clear the right hon. Gentleman had nothing to say in favour of the Commission, although he stood up for them from a sense of chivalry. There appeared to be no necessity for granting this money; and if Government did not withdraw it, the result of the division would by nine out of ten be connected with the conduct of the Commission in augmenting the salary of the Dean of York.
§ MR. HANKEY
said, he thought it scarcely respectful to the Committee that no one representing the Ecclesiastical Commission was present to state what were the duties they performed in connection with the Church Building Acts. They had not heard whether those Acts were still in force or what was doing and at what expense.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, it was impossible to give a detailed account of all the subordinate offices under the Government. They were extremely numerous, and unless he had notice that he should be called upon to give a detailed explanation of what duties the Ecclesiastical Commission bad to perform in connection with the Church Building Acts it would be impossible to extemporize such information. He 1504 could only say he did inquire as to the fact at the proper source, and he received information from a credible authority to the effect he had stated. If the Committee, however, would agree to the Vote, he would undertake, when the Report was brought up, to state in sufficient detail what were the precise duties of the Ecclesiastical Commission in relation to the Church Building Acts.
said, that though unconnected with the Ecclesiastical Commission, he was enabled to state the duties devolving upon them in connection with the Church Building Acts. No church could be built without a conveyance of the site being made to the Commission, who satisfied themselves as to all details and accepted the conveyance. Considering that the number of churches built was very great, and that considerable expense had to be incurred in the investigation of titles, &c, it would be but fair to remunerate the Commissioners accordingly.
§ MR. EDWIN JAMES
called attention to the fact that there was a charge of £150 per annum for the expenses of solicitors and architects contained in the Estimates. The right hon. Member for Oxfordshire in his usual simple but forcible style spoke of calling the Commissioners "over the coals." They might call spirits from the vasty deep, but would they come? They had been calling the Commissioners over the coals, but no one was present to answer for them. He thought the Vote should be indignantly rejected by the Committee.
§ Question put,
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 45; Noes 44: Majority 1.
§ Vote agreed to; as was also
§ (32.) £17,070, Charity Commission.
(33.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £25,480, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to pay the Salaries and Expenses of sundry temporary Commissions, to the 31st day of March, 1861.
§ MR. EDWIN JAMES
said, that Parliament was this year called on to Vote £777 for statute law consolidation, and last year £2,361 were voted under the same head. It appeared that all that enormous payment had taken place without any result; and altogether the country had spent £30,000 for the purpose of consolidating the statute laws, The matter had 1505 been alluded to in the Speech from the Throne, and the House was promised a consolidation of the criminal law. One night his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General stated that the Bills should be proceeded with, and on the following night his hon. and learned colleague the Solicitor General said the Bills were not to be proceeded with this Session. He ventured to say that four able criminal lawyers connected with Westminster Hall would have efficiently performed the work for one-tenth part of this enormous expenditure; and he should therefore Move that the item of £777 for statute law consolidation be omitted from the Vote.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the item of £777, for the Statute Law Consolidation Commission, be omitted from the proposed Vote.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
observed, that the hon. and learned Member had mixed up together several different subjects, and did not seem to understand the matter. The item in the Vote was for work done by the Statute Law Consolidation Commission, which had expired and was no more; whereas the Criminal Law Consolidation Bills, which had been before the House, were the result of the labour of no Commission whatever, but of persons employed under the direction of the Lord Chancellor and the law officers. With respect to the profit resulting from the Statute Law Commission, he was not disposed to refuse concurrence with the hon. and learned Gentleman, and it was a good deal from his own advice that the Commission had been put an end to. However, the duty performed by that Commission had been done on the faith of an engagement, and it was impossible now to refuse the payment of the sum which was due. That Commission did not fulfil all that might have been expected from it, but still a great number of things had been done, and materials had been collected from which he trusted a good deal of profit might be derived. On the expiration of that Commission the Lord Chancellor and the law officers proceeded, with the aid of the Treasury, to spend a very modest sum of money in consolidating the statute law, and if it had been anything but a mere mockery, considering the circumstances of the Session, to bring the matter before the House, he should have laid on the table, in addition to the Bills for Consolidating the Criminal Law, a Bill for the purpose of removing from the statute-book a vast num- 1506 ber of obsolete, repealed, and expired Acts. It was undoubtedly true that he had stated that the criminal Bills should be proceeded with; nevertheless, those Bills, like many others, had been sacrificed to the extraordinary events of a most singular Session, but he hoped that when they were reintroduced on a future occasion they would meet with a better fate.
§ MR. MELLOR
said, he hoped that after the explanation given by the Attorney General, his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Marylebone would not press his Motion. Of the responsibility of having urged upon the Government the withdrawal of the Bills in question he himself was prepared to take his share.
§ MR. EDWIN JAMES
said, the hon. and learned Attorney General was in the habit of imputing ignorance to everybody who differed from him in opinion, and he could assure the hon. and learned Gentleman he felt it to be a compliment, rather than the contrary, to be included by him in the list of those against whom he indulged in making such imputations. There was, however, one point on which he was not ignorant, and that was, that out of the vast amount of legal reform which had been promised by the Government in the present Session, not a single important measure had been passed into a law. The hon. and learned Gentleman had observed that this was a singular Session, and in that opinion he concurred, deeming it to be not the less singular because of the course which the Government had taken with respect to that great measure of reform in bankruptcy, which the hon. and learned Gentleman had introduced, in passing which he might have calculated on receiving the assistance of almost every lawyer in the House, but which nevertheless he had withdrawn—he would not say in a fit of ill-temper, but at all events with a degree of suddenness which afforded some ground for surprise. In conclusion he had simply to say, while expressing his regret that he should lie under the imputation of ignorance, that he believed he understood the question on which he had just spoken quite as well as the hon. and learned Attorney General himself. It was not his intention, he might add, to press his Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
then drew attention to the item of £6,000 to discharge the claim of Messrs. Quilter, Ball, and Jay, in connection with the Weedon inquiry, which 1507 he characterized as a monstrous charge. In mentioning the inquiry itself, he wished to speak of the officers who took part in it with nil possible respect, but he must be permitted to observe that be could not understand how Captain Gordon and Mr. Commissary Adams should have come to the conclusion that nothing could be made of the accounts kept at Weedon, when it appeared that Mr. Moore, who was at the time employed there, gave it as his opinion that ample data for rendering them clear existed, an opinion in which Mr. Jay, when called on, expressed his concurrence. Mr. Jay was appointed solely on Mr. Turner's responsibility, and shortly after his appointment he became partner in the house of Messrs. Quilter and Ball, who, no doubt, were very glad to get a partner who had such a good piece of business on his hands. But after all this cost, Mr. Arbuthnot had reported that the report of Messrs. Quilter and Ball did not present such accurate results as might have been expected from professional accountants, after the expenditure of so much time and labour. If he received any support, he should certainly move the omission of the item.
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
said, he thought his hon. and gallant Friend could not be aware that this inquiry was not gratuitously undertaken by the Government, but was the result of a Committee of that House, which sat on the subject. All the statements made by the officials from Weedon were to the effect that, though the system there was an excellent one originally, such an accumulation of stores had been poured into the establishment that the staff was overburdened; and, though the accounts, owing to that press of business, were in a state of confusion, yet, with time and extra hands, they could be brought into perfect order. The subsequent inquiry showed that this was substantially the case, and that though there was great confusion, there had neither been peculation nor positive loss. As to the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Turner) he deserved the greatest credit for the manner in which he had discharged an onerous and odious task. He knew how deeply the hon. Gentleman felt the responsibility of it at the time, and he was in a manner coerced into undertaking it by a sense of public duty. Before commencing the inquiry, he had mentioned to him his belief that nothing but submitting the accounts to a practical commercial man would 1508 bring out an explanation of them which would be satisfactory to the public. He was sure that in appointing Mr. Jay the hon. Gentleman had only been actuated by the desire of securing the best man he could for the purpose.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he wished for some explanation with regard to an item of £2,000 for a Commission to inquire into the Scottish Universities. What were the duties of that Commission?
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ (34.) £28,229, Patent Law Amendment Act.
§ Vote agreed to, as were also
§ (35.) £12,998, Board of Fisheries (Scotland).
§ (36.) £2,000, Board of Manufactures (Scotland).
§ (37.) £5,000, Highland Roads and Bridges.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, it was quite time that this charge should cease. He did not know why the people of England should be taxed for the support of bridges and roads in Scotland.
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
remarked that it was too bad that, while there were tracts of heather on which, for twenty miles round, no tourist or sketcher was allowed to set foot, the public should be obliged to pay for a macadamized road right through them.
§ MR. LAING
said, that the Vote used to be paid out of the Scotch revenue, and did not appear in the Estimates. It dated from the time when military roads were required in the Highlands on a scale which were not necessary for the convenience of the districts, and which they could not be expected to maintain. He thought it was at present inexpedient to disturb an arrangement which had existed for so many years. A considerable portion of the Vote would go to defray the expenses of reconstructing a bridge at Inverness, which had been swept away by a flood.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (38.) £900, Ancient Laws and Institutes of Ireland.
§ MR. EDWIN JAMES
said, it appeared that the Brehons were the ancient Judges of Ireland, and that they laid down extraordinary laws. There was one of them 1509 with an unpronounceable name, a Bishop and King of Ulster, and certainly a great portion of the law, as laid down by him, was anything but favourable to morality. He found that the republication of those laws had already cost £3,900, and he should like, before agreeing to the Vote, to hear from some Irish Member what benefits had been derived from the perusal of the Brehon Laws.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, that seventy years ago the nation determined to devote a small sum for the purpose of collecting and compiling and transcribing the antiquities of Ireland. A Commission existed, an honorary commission of learned men, who were engaged upon this interesting subject, and the results of this labour were looked forward to with interest, not only in Ireland, but by learned bodies on the Continent.
§ MR. HENNESSY
said, he should support the Vote, which had been originally granted by the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli).
§ Vote agreed to. as were also
§ (39.) £58,700, Pensions, &c. (Merchant Service).
§ (40.) £20,000, Distressed British Seamen Abroad.
§ (41.) £4,000, Quarantine Arrangements.
§ SIR JERVOISE JERVOISE
said, although this was a small sum, yet he should like to know by what Board the fund was expended. The subject of quarantine was an important one, and required consideration, for not long ago, in consequence of a virulent disorder having appeared among cattle in the countries bordering on the Baltic, an order was issued to prohibit the importation not only of cattle, but also of hides, horns, hoofs, and bones.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (42.) £50,000, Payments under Treaties of Reciprocity.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he was glad to find that the Vote had been reduced from last year. A Report had just been issued by a Committee of that House condemning the system upon which this grant was made. He hoped that Report would receive the serious consideration of the Government.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.