HC Deb 26 March 1863 vol 169 cc1980-1

Order for Second Reading read.


said, he rose to move the second reading of the Bill, the object of which was to abolish in name an office which had been in reality abolished during the period of the Crimean War. Before that time the duties of the War Department had been divided between the Secretary for War, who was also Secretary for the Colonies—the Secretary at War, who was always a Member of the House of Commons—the Board of Ordnance, and the Commissariat, the business of which was always transacted at the Treasury. Owing to the pressure produced on these Departments by the Crimean war, it was thought expedient to separate the office of Secretary of State for War from that of Secretary for the Colonies, and in the distinct office thus created was concentrated the whole business belonging to the War Department. The Board of Ordnance was abolished, the Commissariat was transferred to the War Office; but the office of Secretary at War, which had certain functions imposed on it by Act of Parliament, was still kept up and held by the Secretary for War under a separate commission. There were no separate duties to be discharged by the office, and no separate salary attached to it, and the object of the Bill was to abolish an office which for some time had had no duties to discharge.


said, that the office which it was proposed to abolish sprang from the Royal prerogative; and depended on it alone. The Bill was therefore an infringement of that prerogative. In the Act of 1858, with reference to a fifth Secretary of State for India, the preamble distinctly set forth that the provisions were to take effect only if Her Majesty should be pleased to appoint another Secretary He held that a similar acknowledgment of the right of the Crown ought to be inserted in the present Bill. Last Session, the right hon. Gentleman set at naught the Royal prerogative in his measure on the subject of officers' commissions; and the Amendment which he suggested on that occasion, although not accepted by the House, was adopted in another place.

Bill read 2°, and committed for Monday 13th April.