HC Deb 13 April 1863 vol 170 cc110-7

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."


said, he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury, what Estimates would be taken that night. Class 1 to Civil Service Estimates had only been delivered to hon. Members on the previous Thursday, and there had been no time to examine it.


stated that notice was given before Easter that the Civil Service Estimates would be taken immediately after the vacation, commencing with Class 1, and he intended to adhere to that arrangement.


remarked, that although the Estimates in Class 1 were distributed on Thursday, yet, inasmuch as most hon. Members had been out of town during the holidays, they had not had an opportunity of seeing them.


regretted that it had not been possible to distribute the Estimates sooner, but he could assure the House that no time had been lost.


said, he could not but complain of the mode in which the Estimates were proceeded with. The House was only just re-assembling after the Easter vacation; and so far as Class 1 of the Civil Service Estimates was concerned, hon. Members had certainly not had time to examine them. There was a considerable increase in the class. Last year it was £893,000, thus showing an increase of about £200,000. It seemed to year it was about £692,000, while this him that everything was done to prevent a fair, full, and impartial examination of the Estimates, and that attempts were frequently made to take the House by surprise. Many weeks ago several classes were put into the hands of hon. Members, and he submitted they ought to be taken first. The House, at all events, could not be expected to be able to discuss that night a class which was only distributed on Thursday last. He had long entertained the opinion that the Estimates were not examined as they ought to be by the Treasury, which, although a very expensive and formidable establishment, including a First Lord and a Chancellor of the Exchequer, did not seem to exercise a proper control over the other Departments of the Government. It was usual, late in the Session, to appoint a Committee to examine the public accounts; but he could not help thinking that was something like shutting the stable door after the steed was stolen. The Committee ought to be appointed before the Estimates were presented to the House. There would then be some hope of obtaining a thorough examination of the Estimates. He should move as an Amendment that the Civil Service Estimates in Part I. should be referred to a Select Committee.


said, he would second the Amendment. It sometimes happened that grave mistakes were made by the Estimates being hurried through before there was time to examine them. He believed there was a late instance of that. The Government made some arrangement, which he thought was not in the interest of the public, in regard to Sandhurst College. The result of that arrangement was, lie had been informed, a mutiny at Sandhurst, under pressure of which the arrangement was withdrawn. He particularly deprecated that a change in such a matter should be made hastily, as he believed the one to which he alluded had been; but, being made, the Government ought not to have withdrawn it under pressure of a mutiny. They ought to have adhered to it if it was right. He wished to hear from the Government if there was any foundation for the story as to the mutiny and the withdrawal of the arrangement.


said, he could assure the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Augustus Smith) that there was no desire on the part of the Government to take any one by surprise. If there bad been any delay in the distribution of the Estimates, it was owing to the Treasury having done that which the hon. Member thought they never did—namely, carefully considered the Estimates before presenting them to Parliament. He believed the convenience of the House would be consulted by their proceeding with Class 1. Notice had been given that that class would be taken tonight; and if they were to proceed with the other classes first, those hon. Members who happened to be absent would have some reason to complain. The items in Class 1 were really very much the same as in previous years. The Votes were the same, and the amounts very nearly the same. He trusted, therefore, that the Amendment would not be pressed.

Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "Part I. of the Civil Service Estimates be referred to a Select Committee,"—instead thereof.


said, it was a complete farce to go on with Estimates which had been in the hands of hon. Members only since the previous Thursday. Owing to the mode in which the Estimates were laid before the House, millions were voted away in a single night without hon. Gentlemen having it in their power to check the figures.


said, he was ready to acquit the Government of any intention to take the House by surprise; but still if the particular Estimates were then proceeded with, many Members would be quite unprepared to discuss them, and that for the very obvious reason that they had been printed and delivered only at the close of last week, when hon. Gentlemen were away from town, and had no opportunity of examining their details. There were several other classes of Estimates not voted, most of which were in the hands of hon. Members before the recess. He would therefore suggest that these should be taken in the first instance, and that Class 1 should be postponed until the House had had a reasonable time for looking over them. If Class 1 were pressed forward, they would most probably be passed sub silentio for the reason he had assigned; but when they came before the House again on the Report, considerable discussion would in all likelihood then take place. No time would, therefore, be really saved by going on with those Estimates at present. He would recommend the hon. Gentleman opposite, instead of moving that these Estimates he referred to a Select Committee, to move that they be postponed.


said, he fully concurred in all that had fallen from the noble Lord opposite. Of all the Estimates laid before the House, there were probably none, except, perhaps, those for the army, calling for a more careful scrutiny than those comprised in Class 1, relating to the Office of Works, &c. If the discussion could not take place then, it certainly would be had when the Report was brought up.


said, that the Motion suggested by the noble Lord the Member for North Leicestershire was informal and could not be put, as the House had no power, while Mr. Speaker was in the chair, to determine what Votes should be considered in Committee. But the only desire of the Government was, that the Estimates should be fairly considered, with a due regard to the convenience of the House; and if it was the general feeling that they should proceed with the Estimates in Class 3, and postpone those of Class 1 till another sitting, his right hon. Friend would not object to that arrangement.


said, he thought the objections raised ought to have been stated when the Government announced the mode in which they proposed to take the Estimates.


said, he hoped they would go on at once with Class No. 3.


said, he had made his Motion in order to raise a discussion, and he was quite willing to withdraw it. He would have moved the postponement of the Estimates in Class 1, but he had felt that such a Motion would be irregular.

Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

SUPPLY considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

The following Voles were agreed to:—

  1. (1.) £14,610, to complete the sum for Law Charges, &c.
  2. 114
  3. (2.) £120,808, to complete the sum for Prosecutions at Assizes and Quarter Sessions.
  4. (3.) £208,050, to complete the sum for the Police in England, Wales, and Scotland.
  5. (4.) £2,178, to complete the sum for the Crown Office, Queen's Bench.
  6. (5.) £8,510, to complete the sum for the High Court of Admiralty, and Expenses of Admiralty Court, Dublin.
  7. (6.) £2,458, to complete the sum for the Commissioner of the late Insolvent Debtors Court, &c.
  8. (7.) £53,530, to complete the sum for the Courts of Probate and Divorce and Matrimonial Causes.
  9. (8.) £116,010, to complete the sum for the County Courts.
  10. (9.) £8,331, Office of Land Registry.
  11. (10.) £19,725, to complete the sum for the Police Courts of the Metropolis.
  12. (11.) £103,519, to complete the sum for the Metropolitan Police.
  13. (12.) £17,850, Revising Barristers (England and Wales).
  14. (13.) £500, to complete the sum for Annuities under the Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act.
  15. (14.) £13,959, to complete the sum for Compensations, &c., under the Bankruptcy Act, 1861.
  16. (15.) £2,577, to complete the sum for the Lord Advocate and Solicitor General, Scotland.
  17. (16.) £13,090, to complete the sum for the Court of Session in Scotland.
  18. (17.) £7,081, to complete the sum for the Court of Justiciary in Scotland.
  19. (18) £2,500, to complete the sum for Criminal Prosecutions under authority of the Lord Advocate.
  20. (19.) £1,580, Legal Branch of the Exchequer in Scotland.
  21. (20.) £35,231, Criminal Prosecutions, &c. (Scotland).
  22. (21.) £ 15,605, to complete the sum for Procurators Fiscal in Scotland.
  23. (22.) £11,380, to complete the sum for Sheriff Clerks, Scotland.
  24. (23.) £3,695, Solicitor for Titles, &c., in Scotland.


said, he thought that was a charge which ought to appear as port of the Expenditure of the Woods and Forests.


observed, that the revenue derived from Titles was part of the land revenue, but the expenses were voted in the same way as those of the Legal Department.

Vote agreed to.

The following Votes were also agreed to.

(24.) £11,192, to complete the sum for the General Register House, Edinburgh.

(25.) £1,320, Commissary Clerk, Edinburgh.

(26.) £1,487, Accountant in Bankruptcy (Scotland).

(27.) £41,134, to complete the sum for Criminal Prosecutions, &c., in Ireland.

(28.) £2,635, to complete the sum for Court of Chancery in Ireland.

(29.) £302, to complete the sum for the Courts of Queen's Bench, Common Pleas, &c.

(30.) £8,300, Process Servers in Ireland.

(31.) £932, to complete the sum for the Registrars to Judges, &c., in Ireland.

(32.) £1,630, to complete the sum for Compensations to Seneschals, &c., of Manor Courts in Ireland.

(33.) £1,782, to complete the sum for the Office for Registration of Judgments in Ireland.

(34.) £150, Fees to Commissioners of High Court of Delegates in Ireland.

(35.) £4,403, to complete the sum for the Court of Bankruptcy and Insolvency in Ireland.

(36.) £5,330, to complete the sum for the Court of Probate in Ireland.

(37.) £5,632, to complete the sum for the Landed Estates Court, Ireland.

(38.) £1,150, Consolidated Office of Writs, Dublin.

(39.) £420, Revising Barristers (Dublin).

(40.) £28100, to complete the sum for Police Justices, &c., Dublin.


said, he observed from the details given under that Estimate relating to pensions, that in one instance, where the salary was £450, a pension of £300 bad been awarded to an officer after only two or three years' service. Other officers were pensioned after thirteen, eleven, ten, nine, and six years' service. He wished to know why men were allowed to retire on so large a portion of their salary after two or three years' service?


said, the original idea was that the superannuation fund, to which the men contributed, would be found to pay the charges upon it, but that expectation had been entirely disappointed, and the whole subject was now under the consideration of the Treasury, with the view of rendering the fund more equal to the burden.


said, he found, by reference to the Estimate, that the officer in question had retired at the age of fifty, on a salary or compensation of £300, his office having been abolished. It would be well if some suitable employment could be found for those parties whose offices were abolished, instead of allowing them to remain a burden on the pension list.


said, that the officer was fifty-two years of age when he retired, and at the age of sixty officers might retire without a medical certificate.

Vote agreed to; as were also the following: —

(41.) £527,517, to complete the sum for the Constabulary Force in Ireland.

(42.) £1,714, to complete the sum for the Four Courts, Marshalsea Prison, Dublin.

(43.) £10,641, to complete the sum for Prisons, &c.

(44.) £299,454, to complete the sum for Government Prisons and Convict Establishments at Home.

(45.) £222,043, to complete the sum for Maintenance of Prisoners in County Gaols, &c.


said, he must again complain of the manner in which the Votes were submitted. He would defy any one to make out whether the balances asked for were correct.


said, that the Votes were accompanied by minute details, which were laid before the House in compliance with a wish which had been expressed to that effect.


said, that the Committee was not then in a position to consider the management of the convict prisons, nor was he prepared to go into the question at that moment; but he would remind the Committee, that when once the money was voted for that object, the power of the House ceased in respect of the expenditure.

Vote agreed to.

(46.) £32,133, to complete the sum for the Transportation of Convicts, &c.


asked when it was likely that the Report of the Royal Commission on this subject would be ready?


said, that as a Member of the Commission, he might state that they had finished the taking of evidence, and the Members would meet to-morrow to consider the draught Report, which had been prepared.

Vote agreed to.

(47.) £96,163, to complete the sum for the Convict Establishments in the Colonies.


asked whether it was the intention of the Government to increase the convict establishment in Western Australia.


said, that was a question which was to some extent before the Commission.

Vote agreed to,


said, that the next Class of Estimates related to Education, and he thought it would be best to postpone these till another evening.

House resumed.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.

Committee to sit again on Wednesday.

Back to