HC Deb 04 March 1862 vol 165 cc1025-7

said, he wished to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether he intends to bring in a Bill this Session relating to the recommendations of the Committee on Public Monies of 1856?


said, that the recommendations of the Committee on Public Monies, appointed in 1856, were very varied and very numerous, but he did not think there was any one of them which the Treasury could be disposed on principle to dissent from But as his hon. Friend had asked him the question, he might state to the House the position in which those recommendations stood—which of them had been applied in practice, and which of them had not been carried fully into effect. He would also embrace in his answer the recommendations of the Committee on Public Accounts, which last Committee was itself the off spring, through the intervention of the House and the Government, of the original recommendations of the Public Monies Committee. He might say that all had been done which depended on the sole action of the Treasury. There had been various measures to be taken with regard to the audit of accounts which depended on the Treasury. These had been taken, including an arrangement by which, for the future, the whole subject of civil contingencies would be managed. Those subjects had been disposed of by an Act of the last Session. The new arrangement of the Treasury chest, the recommendations of the Public Monies Committee with respect to Exchequer Bills, and the annual communication of all grants on behalf of the Revenue Department, were subjects that had been dealt with by Act of Parliament. There were four other subjects. One was with respect to the income arising from Crown lands—a recommendation that it should be paid in gross into the Exchequer, and that the expenditure for the Crown lands should he sanctioned by that House. That recommendation would require an Act of Parliament, and it rather pertained to the period at the commencement of a new reign, when arrangements were made with the Sovereign for the whole reign. The next subject was that respecting the mode of Exchequer issues. The Committee had made a recommendation on that subject which had been carried into effect. No Bill had as yet been presented to obtain the sanction of the Legislature to the new arrangement; but the Government intended to take an early opportunity of submitting such a measure. The next recommendation was with reference to the issue of Deficiency Bills and a new mode of arrangement in respect to advances that might be required from the Bank of England. That was a subject which the Government had under consideration with the view of proposing a Bill to Parliament. The only other recommendation related to the mode of presenting the Miscellaneous Estimates from year to year. The Government were desirous of giving effect to it, and hoped to be able to submit the Miscellaneous Estimates for the present year in the new form.


said, that some doubt had arisen, though not in his mind, as to whether it was the intention of the Government to give effect to the recommendation that the Committee on Public Accounts should be appointed annually.


I did not express myself in my former answer with sufficient clearness; but when I stated that the Committee on Public Accounts was the offspring of the Committee on Public Monies, I meant to imply all that my right hon. Friend has alluded to. I think the annual Select Committee on Public Accounts is an essential part of the duty of this House in voting the public money.


said, he wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman's attention had been called to the last Report of the Committee on Public Accounts, in which it was stated that the system of auditing the Public Accounts was very unsatisfactory, and that while that system continued such, a Committee would be a delusion and a blind.


said, that whatever recommendations as to the audit of accounts depended on the action of the Government had been adopted. With respect to prospective improvements, he thought that the appointment of the Committee on Public Accounts from year to year would be the best method of insuring their adoption.