HC Deb 09 July 1861 vol 164 cc634-51

Order for Committee (Supply) read.

House in Committee.


in the Chair.

(In the Committee.)

The following Votes were agreed to:—

(1.) £63,357, Mint.

(2.) £16,350, to complete the sum for Inspectors of Factories, &c.

(3.)£6,284, Queen's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer, &c. (Scotland).


objected to the items charged to the Caledonian Hunt and the Queen's Edinburgh Plate.

Voteagreed to.

(4.)£6,431, Household of the Lord Lieutenant (Ireland).


could not understand what the Lord Lieutenant, who was not a military man, wanted with "four Aidesde-camp," or with "two gentleman at large." Some explanation ought also to be given of the charge for the Master of the Horse and the Sergeant of the Riding School. He also found that fifteen Queen's Plates to be run for in Ireland amounted to £1,574, and he wished to know why the country should be taxed with such a charge?


did not understand why the hon. Member made an annual attack on the Lord Lieutenant's Household. He ventured to say that for one sinecure office of State and dignity in this list there were at least a thousand attached to the Royal Household which never came under the observation of the Committee, and he thought it would be advisable to place those Irish offices on the Consolidated Fund, together with the offices connected with the English Court. The Prince of Wales had recently gone to Ireland, which country was also to be honoured shortly by the presence of Her Majesty, and this was not the time to reduce these offices, which were necessary for receiving the Queen with due state and dignity.


said, that the Queen of England was also Queen of Ireland, and it would be better for the people of the latter country to be content to be governed by the Queen of Ireland rather than by the sham Royalty of the Lord Lieutenant. There was no such office as "Gentleman at large" in the Queen's Household, and there were many others in the Lord Lieutenant's Household equally unnecessary and inexplicable.


hoped that an early opportunity would be taken to obtain the opinion of the House on the expediency of abolishing the office of Lord Lieutenant altogether, but as long as it was kept up there was no use quibbling over the expense of his attendants. As the hon. Member for Lambeth had evinced some curiosity to know what the "two Gentlemen at large" has to do, he could inform the hon. Member that he had learned from a friend of one of them that their duty was to water the camelias of the wife of the Lord Lieutenant, and to attend to two or three State balls.


observed that as there was at present no Lady Lieutenant the watering of the camelias could not be the business of the "Gentleman at large."

Voteagreed to.

(5.)£10,339, Chief Secretary to Lord Lieutenant.


objected to the allowance of £425 per annum to the Chief Secretary, and of £375 to the Under Secretary, for fuel. He thought it a very objectionable way of adding to the salary of a Minister of State. He did not object to the salaries received by the Secretary and Under Secretary.


explained that the allowance referred to was made not only for fuel but for several items of expense which used to be defrayed by the Chief Secretary and the Under Secretary before their salaries were reduced. The salary of Chief Secretary had been reduced from £7,000 a year to £4,000.

Vote agreed to; as was also

(6.)£2,508, to complete the sum for Lunatic Asylums (Ireland).

(7.)£21,570, to complete the sum for the Board of Public Works (Ireland).


observed that there was an increase of £1,000 over the Vote of last year.


explained that certain duties heretofore performed by the Paymaster of Civil Services in Ireland had been transferred to the Board of Public Works, and that occasioned an additional charge.


said, that the clerks transferred from the Paymaster's Office to the Board of Public Works had suffered some hardship. In the Paymaster's Office they had the opportunity of rising to certain salaries, and of this opportunity they were now deprived by the regulations of the office of Public Works.

Vote agreed to; as was also

(8.) £33,092, Audit Office.

(9.) £17,029, to complete the sum for the Copyhold, Inclosure, and Tithe Commission.


said, he thought that the duties of the Tithe Commissioners must have long since ceased, and he was of opinion that the expenses of the Copyhold Commission ought to be paid by those who benefited from their labours.


said, a portion of the expenses of the Copyhold Commissioners was defrayed by the parties interested, and the Vote now proposed was for such portion as was not so defrayed.


wished to know why there was an item of £11 6s. for newspapers and railways guides, which did not appear in connection with any other office?


explained that the charge had reference to advertisements. Papers were certainly not purchased for the clerks to read.

Vote agreed to.

(10.) £12,190, Imprest Expenses under Inclosure and Drainage Acts.


objected to the largeness of the charge.


said, that the whole of the money would be repaid to the Exchequer.

Vote agreed to, as were also following:—

(11.) £47,163, General Register Offices in London, Dublin and Edinburgh.

(12.) £10,482, to complete the sum for the National Debt Office.

(13.) £3,120, to complete the sum for Public Works Loan and West India Islands Relief Commissions.

(14.) £6,975, Commissioners in Lunacy.

(15.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £1,223, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Salaries and Expenses of the General Superintendent of County Roads in South Wales, to the 31st day of March, 1862".


said, in Ireland they paid their own Superintendent, and moved that the charge for the Superintendent be omitted.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £239, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Salary and Expenses of the General Superintendent of County Roads in South Wales, to the 31st day of March, 1862.


explained that these roads owed a debt to the Government, and that the Superintendent was appointed by the Government to see that the roads were so managed that the money should be repaid.


bore testimony to the excellence of the system that was now practised under the surveyor.


wished to know what was the amount of the debt?


said, that owing to the "Rebecca riots" which had some years ago taken place in South Wales, in consequence of the system of turnpikes then prevailing there, a re-adjustment of the system had been effected, and arrangements made by which the money advanced for the purpose by the Exchequer Loan Commissioners, which amounted to £250,000, was made re-payable in the shape of a terminable annuity. It was quite obvious, therefore, that the public had an interest in the matter, and it was under those circumstances deemed desirable that a small salary should be paid to a competent Superintendent, whose duty it was to see that the money was duly repaid.


asked what was the amount of the debt which remained to be paid?


could not answer the question offhand, but the hon. Gentleman would find all the particulars in the library.


stated that in fourteen years from the present time the whole of the debt would be paid up.


said, that a sum about £11,000 was paid annually.


complained that, for a sum of £11,000 per annum, the country should be called upon to pay £12,000.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn; Vote agreed to.

The following Votes were then agreed to:—

(16.) £2,273, Registrars of Friendly Societies.

(17.) £14,398, to complete the sum for the Charity Commission.

(18.) £5,055, Local Government Act Office.

(19.) £1,192, Agricultural and Emigration Statistics (Ireland).

(20.) £1,113, to complete the sum for the Landed Estates Record Office (Dublin).

(21.) £1,644, Quarantine Expenses.

(22.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £32,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge of Her Majesty's Foreign and other Secret Services, to the 31st day of March, 1862.


remarked that last year the House voted an equal sum for the same object, and as up to the 31st of December only £23 had been expended by the Government, he wished to know why they now asked for £32,000 more?


stated that although only £23 had been expended at the end of the year, the balance on hand at the beginning of the present month did not exceed £8,500.


thought the Vote was excessive, and moved its reduction by £20,000.


hoped the hon. Member would not press his Amendment. Most of the claims upon the fund arose after the 31st of December. They consisted mainly of pensions for services performed in past times.


reminded the Committee that in the Civil List there was a further sum of £10,000 for Secret Service, so that the whole amount placed at the disposal of the Government was very large. He would withdraw his previous Amendment, substituting another for the reduction of the Vote by £10,000.


suggested that the pensions paid to spies should be distinguished from the other charges upon the fund.


said, it was of course impossible to give an explanation of the manner in which the Secret Service money was applied. He hoped the Committee would not be put to the trouble of a division.

Motion made, and Question, That a sum, not exceeding £22,000, be granted to Her Majesty to defray the Charge of Her Majesty's Foreign and other Secret Services, to the 31st day of March, 1862.

Put, and negatived.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

(23.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £266,218, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Expense of Stationery, Printing, and Binding, for the several Public Departments, and for Printing, &c. for the two Houses of Parliament, including the Expense of the Stationery Office, to the 31st day March, 1862.


expressed an opinion that a searching inquiry ought to be instituted with a view to see whether some reduction might not be effected in this Vote.


could only say in general terms that the Comptroller of the Stationery Office was well skilled in the business of his department, and was very attentive to all matters which were likely to reduce the expense of providing the public offices with stationery. The great expenses of the Stationery Department arose from the printing for the Houses of Parliament, and that was a matter which depended far more upon the discretion of hon. Members than upon the Comptroller of the Stationery Office. It was occasionally the duty of Members of the Executive Government to remonstrate against very voluminous returns which were moved for the suit the tastes or wishes of individual Members, but which contained very little information of a generally interesting character. Upon that matter the House itself was quite competent to form a judgment, and it was only be an exercise of the discretion of hon. Members that this large item of expense could be kept within moderate limits. During the last two Sessions the practice had been in- troduced of printing the evidence taken before Committees in double columns and in small type. That change had been made at the suggestion of the Comptroller of the Stationery Office, and it had tended to considerable economy. He might also state that the Executive Government sought, as far as it could, to diminish the bulk of the appendices to the Reports of Commissions, but after those Reports had been presented it often happened that Motions were made in that House for the production of supplementary papers which the Commissioners had omitted from their appendix. There was consequently great difficulty in the Government keeping this item of printing within moderate bounds.


denied that the enormous amount of this Vote was mainly attributable to the Houses of Parliament. The charge for the War Department alone was £69,000; for the Admiralty, £24,000; Inland Revenue, £40,000; Post Office, £38,000; Patent Office, £24,000; While the increase in the whole amounted to £69,000. They ought to have some explanation of the grounds of that increase.


observed that if the hon. Gentleman would take the trouble to read the explanatory note of Mr. M'Culloch, Comptroller of the Stationery Department—a very rigid economist—he would see that the increase of charge for the War Department was not so great as might have been expected from the extraordinary development of that branch of the public service.


thought the Executive Government should themselves decide what ought to be printed and what not, and not throw the reproach or responsibility on private Members.


took the liberty of suggesting that if Members who moved for Returns communicated with the department as to the form in which they should be made out, taking extracts instead of documents in extenso, both bulk and expense would be materially diminished.


thought there was a great deal of unnecessary printing for the House. He had, himself, moved lately for two Returns which he had copied in the library, thinking they would not be generally useful, and had paid for the copying of them. He thought there was one item in this Estimate which was very objectionable, and without explanation he should vote against it. He referred to the sum of £1,550 for the Ecclesiastical Department.


suggested that there should be only one uniform edition of the Statutes or, at most two, instead of three, as at present.


complimented Mr. M'Culloch, the Comptroller of the Stationery Department, as one of the most efficient public servants to be found in any Department. If his advice were always followed this Vote would be considerably reduced. But for his economical exertions, the Vote instead of £416,218 would be £500,000 or more. Upon the recommendation of that gentleman he had placed a notice on the paper for commuting the allowance of penknives and pencils to clerks into a small money payment. He could not exactly state what the saving would be, but he considered it an important measure of administrative reform. He should propose, just to try the question, to reduce the Vote by £218.


thought there was one Return the Government ought to give—namely, the amount of printing occasioned by particular Members, with their names. The printing for both Houses of Parliament cost only £84,000, while that for the Government offices cost £114,000.


moved that the Vote should be reduced by £1,550 charged for the Ecclesiastical Department.

Whereupon Motion made, and Question, That the item of £1,550, for Ecclesiastical Departments, be omitted from the proposed Vote,

Put, and negatived.

Original Question again proposed.


moved the reduction of the Vote by £218 for small articles of stationery supplied to the clerks in Government Offices.


thought that a saving might be effected by diminishing the bulk of the Votes of that House, and not supplying Members with blue books which they never read.


, said that the expense of printing for that House was unnecessarily increased by putting Bills on the paper on a day on which they could not come on, and thus rendering necessary the printing of Amendments.


said, that the hon. Member for Edinburgh had made out no case for the reduction which he proposed.


had rested himself upon the authority of the Controller of the Stationery Office.

Motion made, and Question, That a sum, not exceeding £266,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Expense of Stationery, Printing, and Binding, for the several Public Departments, and for Printing, &c. for the two Houses of Parliament, including the Expense of the Stationery Office, to the 31st day of March, 1862.

Put, and negatived.


said, that great injustice was done to Parliament by the way in which the matter was treated that night as well as on other occasions. The amount for Parliamentary printing was not one-fifth of the whole. Hon. Members should be too wise to run at small matters when there were such glaring abuses to be looked after. That valuable public servant, Mr. M'Culloch, said that there was a want of control over this expenditure, and obviously he had no control. The question was who had? The War Department spent £70,000 in printing, the Admiralty £24,000, and the Patent Office nearly the same amount. [Sir GEORGE LEWIS: It is all repaid.] He wished to know who had the check or control over the printing of the various departments? Take for instance the calendering of wills, who authorized the printing of the 250 copies, which cost between £4,000 or £5,000? That was the way those sums rose to the enormous figure of £416,000. Who were responsible for the papers which were said to come there "by command?" He would undertake to say that since he entered the House no waggon would be able to carry away the papers that had been presented on the slave trade.


said, as regarded the item for the calendering of wills, it was Parliament that was chiefly responsible, because the 20 & 21 Vict. required that a calender of all the grants of probate and administration should be annually printed.


said, that he found for the War Office not only £9,000 of increase, but subsequently amongst sums, to make up deficiencies of former Estimates, £10,000 more, so that there was an actual addition of £19,000 for the War Office. He wanted to know whether that increase had arisen from the action of the House and not of the particular Department? He believed that the Stationery Office was admirably managed, but the fact was the House had no control over the Department which made the expenditure. That rested with the Treasury, which, unfortunately, did not keep strict watch in this matter.


said, that it was quite impossible that the head of the Stationery Office should control the expenditure of stationery or of the amount of printing, because that was connected with the amount of business. It was very true there had been a great increase in the printing of the War office; but thought there was an actual increase of charge, yet there was a great economy as compared with what would be the increase if writing were substituted for printing.

There were a vast number of circulars and Returns which it was far cheaper to print than to copy in writing. He must say that everybody in that House must have discovered that a large amount of Returns were moved for which were really unnecessary. Nothing was more common than this. A Member had got a particular case of some claim on the part of some individual in some branch of the service which, in his opinion, had not been duly attended to, or some hardship which had been inflicted, and in order to bring that case before the House the Member called for Returns of very large range, embracing a large number of matters that had no reference to the particular case. Well, it was said that the Government ought to check that. But it often happened that they did object, and then it was said that the Returns ought to be granted unless there were some good reasons against it; and then up started hon. Members, saying that there must be something behind, some job, or some abuse which the Government wanted to conceal, and the Government were obliged to give the Returns in order to avoid misrepresentation. But if hon. Gentlemen would follow the example of his hon. Friend the Member for Lambeth (Mr. Williams), who had obtained the information which he wanted without putting the public to expense, there would be some diminution of the cost, though but a slight one.


said, that, with respect to the calendaring of wills, the right hon. Gentleman endeavoured to throw it upon the statute book, but it clearly appeared that it was by Treasury letters that a vast amount of the expense was incurred. Who ordered the back papers of 1856 and 1857, which had added largely to the expense? It was by a Treasury letter. He hoped, then, some explanation would be given whether there was any control over the Departments, or might they spend what they liked?


suggested, that in future Sessions of Parliament there should be a Printing Committee, which should have power to question Members of Parliament as to the reason why the papers they were about to move for were required.


thought that there might be very great improvements in the way in which Returns were furnished by the Board of Trade, and that great economy might be effected if they took a leaf from the practice of the Senate of the United States. There they had certain annual Returns affording information to every Member with respect to matters likely to come before the House, and they were presented at the commencement of the Session. If we had our Returns presented at the same period, it would prevent many Motions for Returns by private Members. As to local taxation, which amounted annually to £16,000,000, they would not have the Return for three weeks to come, and there was, in fact, scarcely one of the annual Returns which was presented at the commencement of the Session.


suggested, that blue books might be printed in smaller type and in double columns, as this would save much expense.

Vote agreed to; as were also the following Votes:—

Original Question put, and agreed to.

(24.) £100,148, Postage (Public Service)

(25.) £32,395, Law Charges.

(26.) £147,000, to complete the sum for Prosecutions at Assizes and Quarter Sessions.

(27.) £224,575, Police, Counties and Boroughs.

(28.) £3,020, Crown Office, Queen's Bench.

(29.) £7,950, to complete the sum for the Admiralty Court, Dublin.

(30.) £6,176, Insolvent Debtor's Court.

(31.) £55,980, to complete the sum for the Court of Probate, &c.

(32) £140,320, to complete the sum for the County Courts.

(33.) £15,355, to complete the sum for Police Courts (Metropolis).

(34.) £101,204, to complete the sum for the Metropolitan Police.

(35.) £3,500, Queen's Prison.

(36.) £17,850, Revising Barristers (England and Wales).

(37.) £2,342, to complete the sum for the Lord Advocate and Solicitor General (Scotland).

(38.) £14,713, to complete the sum for the Court of Session (Scotland).

(39.) £8,071, to complete the sum for Court of Justiciary (Scotland).

(40.) £4,000, Criminal Prosecutions (Scotland).

(41.) £1,620, Exchequer (Scotland).

(42.) £25,000, Sheriffs and Procurators Fiscal, &c. (Scotland).

(43.) £13,935, to complete the sum for the Procurators Fiscal Salaries (Scotland).

(44.) £11,730, Sheriff Clerks (Scotland).

(45.) £2,200, Tithes, &c. (Scotland)

(46.) £14,457, to complete the sum for the General Register House (Edinburgh).

(47.) £1,025, to complete the sum for the Commissary Clerk (Edinburgh).

(48.) £1,528, Accountant in Bankruptcy (Scotland).

(49.) £51,634, to complete the sum for the Law Charges (Ireland).

(50.) £2,363, to complete the sum for the Court of Chancery (Ireland).

(51.) £18,851, Court of Queen's Bench, Common Pleas, and Exchequer (Ireland).

(52.) £3,932, to complete the sum for the Registrars to Judges, &c. (Ireland).

(53.) £4,000, Manor Courts (Ireland).

(54.) £2,319, Registration of Judgments (Ireland).

(55.) £300, High Court of Delegates.

(56.) £5,888, to complete the sum for the Court of Bankruptcy and Insolvency (Ireland).

(57.) £5,380, to complete the sum for the Court of Probate (Ireland).

(58.) £11,311, Landed Estates Court (Ireland).

(59.) £1,253, to complete the sum for the Consolidated Office of Writs.

(60.) £450, Dublin Revising Barristers.


asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, whether it was intended to make may change with regard to the remuneration of Revising Barristers?


thought that a judicial officer should be paid by a fixed salary provided by Act of Parliament rather to ask by fee. He, therefore, proposed to ask the House for leave to introduce a Bill providing that the revising barristers of Dublin should receive a salary of 200 guineas, which was about equal to the amount they received by fees.

Vote agreed to; as was also the following:—

(61.) £26,051, to complete the sum for Police Justices, Dublin.

(62.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £571,947, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Expense of the Constabulary Force in Ireland, to the 31st day of March, 1862.


moved the omission of the item of £3,400 for postage and stationery. These expenses were provided for in other parts of the Estimate.

Motion made, and Question put, That the item of £3,400, for Postage and Stationery, be omitted from the proposed Vote.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 44; Noes 76: Majority 32.

Original Question put, and agreed to.


moved that the Chairman should report Progress, for the purpose of enabling him to remark upon the division that had just taken place. The objection to the item of postage and stationery in the previous Vote was simply this, that it had been already voted at a previous part of the evening, and, therefore, the last was a double Vote of the very identical sums for postage and stationery.


had no doubt that the item was correctly included in the present Estimate. It was exactly the same sum as was voted last year for the same purpose. What was comprised in the item mentioned in the Stationery Office Estimate he did not know, but inquiry should be made before the Report, and if it were found that any portion of the expenditure was voted both on account of the Stationery Office and of the Department the matter should be set right on the Report.


reminded the right hon. Gentleman that the same sum might have been doubly voted last year.


hoped that his hon. Friend would persevere in his Amendment that the Chairman report Progress. It was no use proceeding with the Votes wholesale, as it was utterly impossible for hon. Members to keep pace with the rapid way in which they were being hurried though the House.

Motion, by leave,withdrawn.

The following Votes were then agreed to:

(63.) £2,717, Four Courts Marshalsea Prison (Dublin).

(64.) £17,695, Inspection, &c., of Prisons.

(65.)£306,879, to complete the sum for Prisons and Convict Establishment.


said, that since this Estimate was prepared he had read the Report of the Committee of this House on Transportation, and had communicated with the Directors of convict prisons in this country and in Ireland, with the view of seeing whether some reduction might not be made. The Estimate was for 8,100 convicts at present in England, and the average daily number of the last two years had been 7,350. It had always been the practice to allow for a considerable numerical margin. But, as he was informed that the number of persons sentenced to penal servitude was steadily decreasing, it was unnecessary to retain this marginal allowance. He, therefore, proposed to reduce the Estimates for English prisons by the sum of £15,000, and that for prisons in Ireland by £7,000, making in all a reduction of £22,000.


said, the House owed much to the Government, and his hon. Friend who represented them, for the just and equitable manner in which they had come forward to make this deduction. It afforded a striking instance of the beneficial results in an economical point of view which followed from the well-directed labours of a Select Committee.


acknowledged the meritorious exertions made by the Select Committee; but said the House must not be led away by the idea that a saving had been effected. A diminution in the margin had taken place, but the expenditure which was limeted to the actual cost of the prisons would remain exactly the same.

Vote agreed to.

(66.) £191,976, to complete the sum for the Maintenance of Prisoners, &c.


said, a sum of £14,000 had been hitherto paid for the expense of maintaining convicts in county gaols. Of the 520 cells which they rented, a large proportion could now be dispensed with, and he, therefore, proposed to reduce that item by £2,000.


said, the cost of prisoners under sentence for felony and misdemeanour in Irish county gaols for the year ending the 31st of March, 1861, was £22,500. In the present year it was only £9,000; and he wished to know to what cause it's great decrease was to be attributed?


said, the decrease of crime in Ireland was very satisfactory; but the disparity in the figures was attributable to the fact that the sum taken in the former estimate was meant to cover two years, while the item in the present Vote dealt but with one year.

Vote agreed to.

(67.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £15,776, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray Expenses connected with the Transportation of Convicts, &c. to the 31st day of March, 1862.


proposed to reduce the Vote by £6,000. He thought it better to abandon transportation altogether; but the majority of the Committee of the present Session, of which he was a Member, acted on the advice of Mr. Waddington, the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department, who thought it would be safer to continue a very small amount of transportation in respect to the worst men, and that out of the 500 or 600 men every year sentenced to transportation a ship load might be advantageously sent abroad, and could be profitably employed in Western Australia, where they would be gladly received. We had a great convict establishment at Bermuda, where the convicts were employed in the construction of public works to strengthen the fortifications; another at Gibraltar, where the employment was the same; and a third in Western Australia. With the number of convicts discharged every year there would not be enough to keep up these three convict establishments. The Committee, therefore, recommended that for the present the convicts transported should be sent to Western Australia only. He proposed to the Committee to carry out the views of Mr. Waddington and the majority of the Committe; and he, therefore, moved to reduce the Vote by £6,000, so as to provide only for the 250 transports recommended by Mr. Waddington to be sent abroad. The number included in the Estimate was 750.


said, it was now under the consideration of the Government whether any more convicts would be sent to Bermuda. It was probable that none might be sent there this year; but he believed that if there were any change it would be only in the distribution of the convicts, for Sir Joshua Jebb had assured him that he thought 750 convicts would be transported this year. Under those circumstances he could not consent to a reduction of the Voted.


entirely agreed with the hon. Gentleman who had proposed the reduction of the Vote. As there was unused accommodation in the prisons at home for a great number of convicts, he did not see why the expensive system of transportation should be continued.

Motion made, and Question put, That a sum, not exceeding £9,776, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray Expenses connected with the Transportation of Convicts, &c. to the 31st day of March, 1862.

The Committee divided:—Ayes26; Noes 102: Majority 76.


wished to put a question to the Home Secretary in reference to the repeated and frightful outbreaks of mutiny at the convict stations. Did it arise from mismanagement, or was Sir Joshua Jebb an incompetent officer?


did not admit that the outbreaks at Chatham, Portland, and Portsmouth had been frequent or frightful. No doubt some time since there was a formidable riot at Chatham, and there has also been a few escapes from Portland and Portsmouth, but there had been nothing that deserved the description of a general outbreak or mutiny. The mutiny of the convicts at Chatham had been carefully investigated; but it was very difficult to ascertain precisely the causes and origin of outbreaks of this sort. It was not easy to say what were the precise causes of the Indian mutiny. The outbreak at Chatham had been attributed to some laxity of discipline and deficiencies on the part of subordinate officers transferred to the establishment from the hulks—a portion of the prisoners came from the hulks also; but the mutiny was speedily put down. There was no loss of life. Some corporal punishment was necessarily inflicted on the ringleaders; but, all things considered, the outbreak was suppressed with as little difficulty as could be expected under the circumstances. He believed the convict system of England was a very good one, founded on sound principles, and administered with great care. He had the greatest confidence in the judgment of Sir Joshua Jebb and his colleagues, and, without disputing the justices of the praises bestowed on the Irish system and its superintendents, he doubted whether any portion of it could be advantageously transferred to the system adopted in England.


believed the ourbreak at Portland was only suppressed by the aid of the military force, and in the convict establishment at Portsmouth a surgeon was murdered. Sir Joshua Jebb was not the person who ought to have been sent to conduct the inquiry into the mutiny at Chatham, but some one who would have made a searching investigation. It was most unsatisfactory that these outbreaks should only have been suppressed by force and severe flogging.

In answer to Sir JOHN PAKINGTON,


explained that the number of convicts to be sent to Bermuda this year would be reduced; the number to be sent to Gibraltar and Western Australia would be about 700.

Vote agreed to.

(68.) £145,590, to complete the sum for Convict Establishments (Colonies).


proposed to reduce the Vote by the sum of £10,000, which would not be required for the establishment at Bermuda.


asked, what was the cause of the different cost of almost equal numbers of convicts in different colonies? He believed that all the convict labour might be employed at home in completing Portland, and then on the other large public works.


said, the question involved the distinction between transportation and penal servitude. The convicts sent to Gibraltar were employed, in captivity, on public works, and at the end of their term returned to England. Those sent to Western Australia remained there, and became part of the colonial population; they were disposed of for life, and this country got rid of them. There was that advantage in the system of transportation. It would be difficult to enforce imprisonment for life; men were likely to become desperate under it. It was not advisable to give up the system of transportation altogether.


had hoped, after the strong statement made in "another place" by the Secretary for the Colonies, that no more convicts would be sent to Bermuda. He trusted that some assurance on this point would be given.


said, that the noble Lord's statements last Session relative to Bermuda were derived from the testimony of the chaplain. Upon inves- tigation that testimony was found to be considerably exaggerated, and it appeared that the moral and physical state of the convicts was not so bad as was represented. Nevertheless, it had been considered advisable to suspend the shipment of convicts to Bermuda, and no convicts had accordingly been sent there for some time. With the prisons at home, the convict establishment at Gibraltar, and the opportunity of sending a few convicts to Western Australia, no difficulty was felt in disposing of the present number of convicts.

Vote agreed to.

House resumed.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow; Committee to sit again To-morrow.