HC Deb 13 March 1862 vol 165 cc1449-52

said, he wished to ask the Secretary of State for War, Whether the nine non-purchase regiments are included in the number, Infantry of the Line in India 54,837, and the three regiments of Cavalry in the number, Cavalry in India 7,062; and in whom is the patronage of these regiments to be vested? The reason for his putting the first question was, that the impression prevailed in India that they were paying for a larger number of men than they had. He wished also to hear whether there was any difficulty in obtaining field officers for those regiments. There was also another important question he wished to put—what amount of loss has been incurred by the War Department by fictitious or forged entries of work performed by contract, since the amalgamation of the War and Ordnance Departments; specially, what amount of loss has been incurred in the Dublin case of Hamilton Dinnellan; and whether any steps have been taken to prevent the like frauds in future? He believed that there was great laxity in watching over the performance of public contracts, and he feared that that might account for the loss of a good deal of public money. On this point very remarkable evidence had been given by the Director of Works to the Admiralty—a most able officer in his own department—who stated that he had been called on to certify to matters of contract connected with harbours of refuge, involving an expenditure of thousands of pounds of which he positively knew nothing whatever. When the question was put to him point blank, he stated that there was not the most remote check over these contracts No doubt there was difficulty in working out contracts in such a way that the public would have money's worth for their money. Some time back, however, the Board of Ordnance was amalgamated with the War Department—a measure as to the expediency of which opinions were divided at the time, and he wished to know what amount of loss had since been incurred in consequence of fictitious, improper, or even forged entries. Within the last few months a painful case had occurred at Dublin, where a clerk in the War Office, named Dinnellan, and a contractor named M'Ilwaine, by collusion succeeded in making it appear, that thousands of pounds were expended which had never been spent at all, and defrauding the public purse to that extent. That afforded additional proof that some audit or second eve was wanting over these contracts; and he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would not only be able to give satisfactory explanations on all these points, but to state that measures had been taken to guard against possibility of similar frauds in future.

MR. E. ELLICE (St. Andrews)

said, that before the right hon. Baronet rose he was anxious to ask him another question with respect to the Ordnance survey of Scotland. A map of that country had been promised for the last thirty years; yet they were nearly as far from obtaining it as they had been ten years ago. The representatives of Scotland had been startled and alarmed at hearing, on the authority of Sir H. James, that, part of the money voted for the purposes of the Ordnance survey of Scotland had been employed on defence surveys in other parts of the country, and that the Staff had been removed for the same purpose. That was not proper treatment either of Scotland or of the House of Commons. He wished to ask the right hon. Baronet whether the money voted for the Ordnance survey of Scotland would be applied to the vigorous prosecution of that object; and whether the money diverted from that object last year would be restored to its original purpose? It was hard that the Bill for the defences should be made to appear less than it really was by robbing the Ordnance survey. By a return about to be produced, it appeared that Ireland, which had already a map upon the 6-inch scale, was at that moment having money spent upon the topographical 1-inch survey.


remarked, that although a survey of Scotland had been ordered on the 25-inch scale, which would nave been a most costly affair, it had been actually commenced on the 1-inch scale. [Cries of No, and Six-inch.] Well, that was very different from a 25-inch survey. But why should that immense amount of money be spent in giving survey of their property to the landowners?


said, that Ireland was surveyed on a 6-Inch scale. Had the House, twenty years ago, taken the advice of Sir Hussey Vivian and voted £1,000,000 for the purpose of a survey of the kingdom, millions of money since spent on the tithe map, the main drainage maps, and other independent surveys, would have been saved to the country.


said, that in answer to the first question of the hon. Member for Evesham (Sir Henry Willoughby) he had to state that the nine non-purchase infantry regiments and the three cavalry regiments were included in the number shown in the Army Estimates as being on the Indian establishment. The hon. Member also asked, whether the licences for competing for the first commissions in those regiments were granted by the Commander-in-Chief. The commissions would be competed for by the students at Sandhurst after residence there 'for one year, with the exception of twenty Queen's cadets, who would not be subjected to a competitive but to a qualifying examination. With regard to the second question, relative to the Ordnance frauds, it was true that a sergeant, engaged as a clerk in the Engineer Office, and another person, had been engaged in certain fraudulent transactions; but those persons were not officially connected with each other. The frauds amounted in value to £23,000, and extended over a period of thirteen years, having been commenced in 1848; but it was quite clear that they were not in any way connected with the consolidation of the Ordnance and War Departments. Effectual steps had been "taken for the prevention of similar frauds.

With respect to the endless Ordnance survey, he could only say that he retained individually, though not officially, the opi- nion he had long entertained, that it would have been far better if the Ordnance map had been limited to a 1-inch scale instead of the 6-inch or the 25-inch scale. But the House decided otherwise, and he felt it his duty officially to acquiesce in the decision. In reference to the complaint that Ireland, having already a map on a 6-inch scale, was now going to get another on a 1-inch scale, he could only say that a 6-inch scale was of no use at all. It was too small for the purposes of survey, and too large for a mere map; and therefore he did not grudge Ireland the formation of a useful map, A question had been asked respecting the Scotch survey, and in reply he had to say that he understood that in 1860 a sum of £5,000, allotted to the prosecution of that survey, was diverted to carrying Out some plans for fortifications in the south of England. That was done after deliberation by his predecessor in office; and as the transfer had been made and, he presumed, sanctioned by the Treasury, it was impossible to refund the money, as the hon. Member for St. Andrews suggested. With respect to the Vote this year no specification was made. It was taken as a gross sum for the survey, and how much would be allotted to Scotland or England would depend upon considerations of convenience.