HC Deb 01 March 1864 vol 173 cc1338-59

said, he rose to move a Resolution, That the Civil Service and Miscellaneous Estimates had been, for many years, rapidly increasing and ought to be reduced. Some might object to the question being brought forward in the way of Resolution, but that was the most constitutional way; and, besides, it was practically impossible to discuss those Estimates in detail when brought on at, perhaps, 2 o'clock in the morning. He need hardly say that he did not bring forward this Motion in a spirit of hostility to the Government, because the present Government was the first for thirty years, if not within the memory of man, which had reduced these Estimates; for they reduced them last year by the sum of £23,967; and he was in hopes that a strong expression of the House in favour of his Motion would strengthen the hands of the Government, and especially of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, so as to enable them to reduce the expenditure by which taxation might be diminished, and the comforts of the people and the commerce of the country materially increased. The House would probably be astonished at the immense increase which had taken place in the Civil Service Estimates in the last thirty years; and they were much indebted to the hon. Baronet the Member for Evesham (Sir Henry Willough-by) for the Returns which he had obtained upon this subject. These Returns showed, that while in 1835 the total amount of the Estimates was only £2,393,000, they had risen in 1863 to £7,805,000, showing a difference of £5,412,000; so that it would appear the taxation of the country was £5,412,000 more now than it was in 1835. But that was not all nor nearly all. To that must be added 5 per cent for the collection of taxes, which would bring the difference to £5,682,000, which if the Estimates were reduced to the level of 1835 would be available for the remission of taxation. But taking the sum at £5,412,000 there might be added to that half—or, at least, one-third—owing to the power of taxes when reduced of recovering themselves. There were those who were of opinion that the fire insurance duty if half of it were taken off, would recover itself in a few years. He was of opinion that the to- bacco duties if reduced in a like degree would do so in three or four years. Even in the case of the reduction of the income tax the whole would not be lost, because the Government gained in the first place fairer returns; and secondly, if a man had money to spend he would lay it out in some manner or other so that it would find its way back into the Exchequer. Adding, then, to the £5,412,000, one-third of which might be fairly allowed for recovery, we were now paying the enormous sum of £7,576,000 more than we did in 1835. With the whole of this large sum the Chancellor of the Exchequer might fairly deal. But the relief to the people would be still greater; for experience showed, that the amount by which a tax was reduced was not the measure of relief to the people. For instance, in the case of tea last year, only 5d. in the lb. was taken off the duty, but the price was reduced in nearly every shop in London 6d. per lb. There was a penny tax upon newspapers, and at that time the newspaper was sold for 5d. When the penny tax was taken off the newspaper, according to Cocker, would be sold for id., but it was sold for a penny. The duty on paper was 1½ d. per lb., and the larger papers were sold for 4d. On The Times, Morning Post, and such papers, the 1½d. tax would be less than ½d., but the price was soon reduced 1d. Thus the public gained more than was taken off in the shape of taxation. For these reasons, he thought that at least 10 per cent might be added to the £7,576,000 as what the public paid in addition to what the Government received, making a total of £8,334,000, as the sum the public paid for Civil Service and Miscellaneous Estimates more than in 1835. But the sum the House had to consider was what the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have to deal with if such a state of affairs existed as in 1835, and that would be £7,576,000. That sum was equivalent to the whole of the income tax, nearly equal to the stamp duties, including the fire insurance duty; it was more than the malt tax, and it would enable half the duty on tea and sugar to be taken off with perfect safety to the revenue. It must be admitted, that the increase of the population and other causes had caused a great increase in the expenditure of the country, and, therefore, the Civil Service Estimates would, of necessity, be larger than they were thirty years ago. Certain sums, such as the proceeds of the Woods and Forests, which used to be paid into the revenue net were now paid in the gross. On the other hand, in consequence of the free institutions given to the colonies, and other causes, there was a saving on that head of not less than £237,954; and, as far as he could make out, for there was some difficulty on account of transfers and other reasons, the whole of the sums which used formerly to be paid and were not now paid out of the Miscellaneous Estimates amounted to £729,495. He maintained that, in some respects, those Estimates were too high in 1835; but the sum they had now to deal with was £7,576,938, and the question was whether, in the Miscellaneous Estimates, they got an equivalent for this enormous amount of taxation. He need not dwell on the evils of taxation, which, besides taking money from the people, tended to restrict trade and manufactures, and checked consumption; but besides the payment of the money he considered that great evils arose out of the expenditure. There were moral evils arising from the expenditure of such a vast sum of money which nothing but necessity could justify; in fact, it was an incentive to knavery, for some people were accustomed to think that there was not the same harm in cheating the Government as in cheating individuals. Therefore, nothing but necessity would warrant such an enormous amount of taxation as that he had just referred to. He was quite willing to admit that taxation for the army and navy, which formed the defence of the country, was an actual necessity; but there was no necessity for many of the items in the Miscellaneous Estimates. In 1835, the cost of the army and navy was £11,730,073, while in 1863 it amounted to £25,796,269, being more than double the former amount; but the Civil Service and Miscellaneous Estimates had increased still more considerably — for they had risen from £2,393,182 in 1835 to £7,805,277, being considerably more than three times their former amount. He wished to know where was the necessity for this large increase. Owing to the confused state in which these Estimates were presented—though he did not on that account accuse any one of an attempt at fraud—it was often difficult to ascertain what any particular item was. For instance, there was a Vote for Kingstown harbour of £1,968, while the cost of that harbour was put down at £3,575. That was not the way in which the money should be voted. The whole sum of £3,575 should be provided for, and what was received from the harbour should be paid into the Miscellaneous Revenue. In some cases part of the required money was voted, and in other cases the whole. With respect to the superior Courts of Law the whole money was voted, and the fees were paid into the Miscellaneous Revenue; but in regard to the County Courts the cost was £183,783, while the sum voted was £166,010, the other portion being paid by the fees of courts. This appeared to be a confused way of making up the Estimates. The Votes for some things were taken in two or three different places in the Estimates. Thus, in one place, the sum of £1,371 was put down for Bushy Park, and there was another Vote for it of £2,836. The same was the case with regard to Hampton Court and other items. For the Houses of Parliament a sum of £2,300 was put down in one place for fuel; in another place, coals, candles, and other expenses were stated at £1,150; and in a third place there was an item for warming and ventilating. Thus it was necessary to look into three distinct places to find the whole of that expense. He would now refer to cases of compensation for offices abolished. He was not one of those who contended that persons should not be compensated for loss of office or for superannuation, as probably the Government obtained services at a less price than they otherwise would, because people took office under the impression that they would be provided for for life; but where there was the opportunity of transferring persons from one office to another, he did not see why compensation should be given. The Bankruptcy compensations amounted to £15,091; but he thought that many of the officers might have been transferred to the new courts. He found in the Miscellaneous Estimates some items which ought never to have appeared there, as they properly belonged to the expenditure for the army and navy, such as the cost of furniture for the offices for the inspection of the infantry, £3 11s. 1d.; for the furniture and repairs, &c, of the Hibernian Military Schools, £5,828; for the furniture of the Irish Commissariat Office, £106; and certain items for Bermuda and Heligoland, and for the Treasury chest, all of which ought to have been included in the army estimate. It was true that it might be said that it was as broad as long, whether the money was paid under one head or another; but they all knew that bad accounts could not make the expenditure less, but they often caused it to be more. With respect to compensation, he found that the bailiffs in the Courts of Requests were compensated when those courts were done away with and the County Courts were substituted, and therefore he could not see why the bailiffs should not have been transferred to the latter courts. In one office the third clerk, who used to be paid £1,225 a year, received, on the abolition of his office, £750 a year. It appeared to him that that clerk might easily have been transferred to another clerkship. In another case a housekeeper, who used to receive £50 a year, got £49 6s. 8d. a year as compensation; and a messenger, whose salary was £70, obtained as compensation £46 13s. 4d., though those persons might have been transferred to other places. With respect to superannuation, he must say that though he was in favour of the system, yet, when he saw a person superannuated at forty-five years of age, he regarded that as a considerable waste of money. The subject to which he would next advert was the Patent Office. He thought that so large a sum as £50,000 in one place, £19,000 in another, besides some smaller items, ought not to be voted for that establishment, and that patents should pay for themselves. He noticed that a great many fees were paid on account of Knights of the Garter and other orders of knighthood, and also upon the election of an Irish representative Peer; which, he thought, ought not to be charged to the public. He perceived a Vote of £870 for Hampton Court Road, another of £1,200 for Richmond and Kew Roads, and a third of £1,223 for the superintendent of county roads, South Wales. Those expenses ought not to be paid for out of the public purse, but out of the local funds; and he could never understand why Westminster Bridge should be placed on a different footing from that of other bridges, and be paid for by the public. Then, again, the police magistrates were paid in London by the Government, but in Manchester and other towns throughout the country by the inhabitants. In England three-fourths of the rural police was supported by the counties, but the corresponding force in Ireland was maintained at a cost of more than £700,000 out of the national purse. He found that a considerable sum, which had been greatly augmented of late, amounting to £40,278, was given by the Government to the Nonconformist clergy of Ireland, as if there was not nonconformity enough already in the world without paying for it, and as if it were not of the essence of Nonconformity to be self-supporting. The expenses of criminal prosecutions, which used to be paid locally, were now borne by the nation, and they had here a striking illustration of the extravagance into which people were led when they were spending, not their own money, but that of other people. In 1835, the first year of the new system under which the Government settled the bill, the sum asked was £110,000, which seemed to have been much more than sufficient, as next year only £40,000 was required. Since then, however, the amount had been raised to £190,000, although in the meanwhile the Summary Jurisdiction Act had been passed, which did away with a great deal of the criminal business at the sessions and assizes. As to harbours of refuge, the Vote for Harwich had been denounced as a job; and he could not understand why there was any necessity for an expenditure of £6,300 on Port Patrick harbour, when there was such a good one at Stranraer. He now came to the Vote for Science and Art; and, while fully appreciating the objects in view, he felt bound to say that the money expended by Government did a gread deal more harm than good, for it damped and discouraged private exertions. Scarcely anything was done in London in the way of museums and art galleries except by the Government, whereas in other parts of the country institutions of that kind were established and maintained by local efforts. Experience had proved that voluntary undertakings were generally more successful than those promoted by the Crown; and in support of that view he might instance the two Great Exhibitions, the Zoological Society, the Society of Arts, and the Royal Agricultural Society, the last named having accomplished such vast improvements in stock breeding that the sheep and oxen of thirty years ago would not know those of the present day. In music, too, the country has made great progress in recent years, but not a farthing had been spent on that object by Government. The Vote for the South Kensington Museum had been raised to £122,000. The British Museum, which used to cost £22,000, now cost £90,000; and gene- rally the items of the Vote had increased in the same enormous ratio. The Kensington Museum was lighted up at night for the benefit, it was said, of the humbler classes; but if it was to be of any good to them it should be taken to the Tower Hamlets or some other quarter of the metropolis where they lived. He believed that the rich merchants having property about the docks would most probably have made provision for the instruction and recreation of the people about them if the Government had not taken the matter in hand. A great deal had been said of the number of persons who visited the public museums, but it was by no means remarkable. A Return of the number of sightseers last Whitsuntide showed that 11,472 went to the British Museum, 10,200 to the National Gallery, 6,552 to the South Kensington Museum and so on. Of the total, 60,000 and odd, no fewer than 25,000 went to Hampton Court; but did anybody suppose they went to inspect the cartoons? No, the people flocked thither to see the chesnut trees and the gardens and to enjoy the fresh air. The public did not visit these collections because they had any particular interest in science or art. As many went to view the Lord Mayor's show as went to see the public museums at Whitsuntide; and if Greenwich fair were held now it would attract, he had no doubt, not 60,000, but 200,000. We had not the means of getting great picture galleries, the fact being that the best pictures were not in the market, and should not attempt to rival other countries in that respect. In his opinion the Government of this country had quite enough to do in conducting the general business of the nation, in considering questions which might affect the balance of power in Europe, and in keeping the peace of the world; and might safely leave Science and Art to take care of themselves. Art was beauty, knowledge was power, and science was truth, and would assert their own position with the progress of civilization. There was no man more sincerely and thoroughly in favour of popular education than he was, but he thought the enormous Vote for Education was injudiciously and extravagantly expended. He was not one of those who fancied that an educated man made a worse ploughman or shepherd than an ignorant one; but it was not expedient that all classes of the community should be educated at the public expense to the same point. Such a system tended towards Socialism, and would tend to diminish industry and thrift, because it would relieve parents from what ought to be their great object in life—the training and instruction of their offspring. The Vote for Education had risen from £65,000 in 1835 to £1,110,000 in 1863. The worst of it was that the Government gave only to those schools which had money already, while others which were really in want of aid received none. He knew a case where the squire gave £40, the clergyman another £10, and one or two other persons helped to make up a sufficient sum for the school; but the Government added £75 more. There was undoubtedly a great deal of waste in this system. The certificated teachers cost too much for small districts, and, moreover, were often quite above giving elementary instruction, such as was required. The consequence was that the standard of education in these schools was generally too high for the class who attended them. There was no more miserable body of people than those who were educated above their means and position. Mr. Cobbett had an excellent essay on this subject, called, in his quaint style, "Education and Heddicashun," the former being defined to be "to bring up, so as to become useful in the world," and the latter "to fill heads with stuff and nonsense." In that article Mr. Cobbett said— This nation absolutely swarms with young people of this description; they have no learning worthy of the name, not one of them possesses the smallest particle of literature or is competent for anything worthy the name of accounts; yet they think their case hard, they think themselves ill-used, they think that the whole frame of society is bad, because they can find no one who will, out of the fruit of his labour or study, give them the means of living without work; they lounge about the house of their parents, they spunge upon the funds of their friends, and when both of these will not or cannot keep them any longer in idleness, they resort to frauds of all sorts, or are destitute and miserable beggars; when, if their little hands had been taught to pick up stones and to weed the corn, and their tongues had been taught to bawl at the mischievous birds, instead of singing words at a school, they might have led lives of useful and patient labour—livea ending in ease and as much happiness as old age will admit of. His (Mr. Marsh's) idea was that the education of the country should be left to the property of the country, and that, if it were so, property would do its duty. It might be said that the education of the people had improved under the system of Government grants. True, it might be so; but it had progressed quite as much when no assistance had been given. It should be recollected that almost every town had its literary or mechanic's institute, which flourished without any Government aid. The education of the middle classes had also improved within the last thirty years, and such a schoolmaster as Squeers, or such a school as Dotheboys Hall, could not now be found in any part of the country. Moreover, our ancient universities and academical establishments had adapted themselves to the spirit of the age, and Oxford especially had gone out of her way in the case of the middle-class examinations. Now, although the physical and material condition of the people had greatly improved within the last thirty years, he doubted whether there had been a corresponding increase in their moral improvement. For various reasons, crime ought to have diminished during that period. Thirty years ago there was scarcely anything like detection of crime, and at that time, too, many persons were constantly out of work, and often stole a leg of mutton, or a loaf of bread, but simply to get a meal. Now, when every one could get work, we ought to expect that those crimes, which were the result of poverty, would have diminished. But he found that, while the cost of our criminals in 1835 was £233,000, it now amounted to £812,000. In one department he observed that there were 10,466 convicts, who cost the country £359,000, which was £33 8s. a year, or 13s. a week, per man, in round numbers. The respectable labourers and small tenants in many parts of the country maintained themselves with a much less sum, and he believed there were counties where the outdoor relief of the aged poor was not 13s., but 1s. 10d. a week. He noticed, too, that the 10,466 convicts had £21,015 given to them by way of gratuity, or pocket money. No wonder crime did not decrease under such a system. He was persuaded that a few pennyworths' of whipcord would do far more good than all this wasteful extravagance. The next topic to which he wished to direct attention was a rather delicate one—the Vote of £10,950 for Slave Trade Commissions. That was not a large sum, but it was connected with others of great amount. He found that 3,514 men and boys were employed on the African coast in the suppression of the slave trade, to say nothing of those serving off Cuba and elsewhere. If, according to the Navy Estimates, 75,000 men and boys cost £10,736,000, it followed that 3,514 must cost £503,000, which, added to the expense of Commissions and other charges, made a total of £631,470. This is what we were paying for what was termed the suppression of the slave trade. If we were really suppressing the slave trade, he should not grudge the money, but the fact was, we could do little in that direction. His impression was, that if we were to leave the Spaniards of Cuba alone, and not irritate their pride, they would, of their own accord, put a stop to the slave trade in far less time than we could suppress it. We had already done enough, and having carried out a great measure of justice at a cost of £20,000,000, ruined many of our colonies, and reduced hundreds of families from wealth to penury, he thought we should abandon the Quixotic idea of constituting ourselves the knights-errant of the sea at a time when non-intervention was the order of the day. The extravagance which he had thus endeavoured to describe began soon after the passing of the Reform Act, and he was afraid it was an incident peculiar to representative institutions. Each constituent tried to get what he could for himself and his friends, and Members of the House of Commons, instead of going into Committee of Supply and endeavouring to reduce expenditure, wearied the House with preliminary Motions in order to swell the Estimates. Captain Grant's cooking apparatus was a standing dish, and the Crawley trial would cost the country a considerable sum for little more than the pleasure of finding a mare's nest. The Government was not chiefly to blame. For obvious reasons, indeed, they rather wished to keep expenditure within bounds; but the thing was literally pressed upon them. Frequent changes of the Ministry were one great cause of extravagance. Each Administration was easily tempted to make engagements with the view of pleasing as many people as possible, leaving to its successor the unpopular task of imposing additional taxation. From 1852 to 1855, when we had the good fortune to have three changes, the Estimates rose from £4,407,000 to £6,586,000. The independent Members of that House were the only persons who could put a stop to this system of extravagance. It was the duty of the Government to protect person and property, but there its vocation ceased, and everything else ought to be done by local management and individual exertion. It was this system which had made us the great people we now were, and which had given us that self-reliance that was our national characteristic. It was the very life of our social system, and it bound class to class, not in the links of dependence, but in the kindred and mutualities of affection and interest. Indeed, it might be safely assumed that in countries where the Government did everything, the people would do nothing.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Civil Service and Miscellaneous Estimates have been for many years rapidly increasing, and ought to be reduced."— (Mr. Marsh.)


said, he was not at all surprised that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Marsh), basing himself on the Return to which he had referred, should have been struck with the circumstance that the Civil Service Estimates of each year appeared larger than those of the preceding year. Although he had very justly made an exception as to the last few years during which they had not increased. He (Mr. Peel) readily admitted that it was a very legitimate object, not only to prevent their further increase, but if possible to reduce their amount. Without explanation it must certainly appear a very surprising circumstance that the Civil Service Estimates, having been £2,500,000 sterling in 1836, should have risen to £3,000,000 in 1844, to £4,000,000 in 1850, to £6,600,000 in 1854, and should now, in 1863–4, have reached £7,800,000; and any accidental circumstance occurring at any moment might make them pass the line of £8,000,000, or double their amount in 1850. No doubt if the views of the hon. Gentleman were carried out, and no money was granted for public education—if the large sums voted for the correction and reformation of criminals could be dispensed with—if the policy pursued for many years were altered, and no provision made for the suppression of the slave trade, these Estimates would show a very great reduction. But he thought the House would scarcely be prepared to adopt these changes without considerable hesitation, and the policy of doing so could not well be discussed with advantage on that occasion. His chief answer to the Motion of the hon. Gentleman was, that the increase which had taken place of late years in the Civil Service Estimates was much more apparent than real —that the civil expenditure of the country had not increased in anything like the same proportion as the Estimates had; and that the latter increase, where it had been unaccompanied by any increase of our total civil expenditure, far from being a matter for regret or needing correction, should rather be viewed with satisfaction and be allowed to develop itself to its full extent, because it resulted only from the carrying out of the beneficial principle of bringing the public expenditure as much as possible under the eye of Parliament and subjecting it to Parliamentary sanction annually renewed. He would not go further back than the year 1850. The greater part of the increased amount of the Civil Service Estimates shown before that year was caused by the measures taken in 1846 for transferring charges from local rates to the Imperial revenue, in order to lighten the burdens on land at a time when land was thought to be about to have a new burden placed upon it arising out of free trade. In that year the Government undertook to relieve persons interested in the payment of local rates from the remaining half of the cost of criminal prosecutions, from the remaining half of the cost of maintaining county and borough prisoners, from half the expense of the medical officers employed under the Poor Law, and from the whole expense of the salaries of district auditors and of the masters of workhouse schools. The transfer of those charges to the Imperial revenue caused an immediate addition to the Civil Service Estimates of £250,000. The hon. Gentleman said that, as soon as the local authorities ceased to have any interest in keeping down the amount of that expenditure it enormously increased. That was quite true up to a certain time, but the hon. Member had forgotten that the Government, taking notice of that circumstance, established a machinery at the Treasury for examining and checking these accounts, the result of which had been most satisfactory. Under its operation the expense of criminal prosecutions, which had previously reached £300,000, and even £350,000, had been brought down to £150,000, its present amount. Passing to the total increase in the Civil Service Estimates from £4,000,000 in 1850 to £7,800,000 in 1863–4, he was anxious to show that it had been for the most part caused by the transfer to those Estimates of payments already existing, but made under other heads or branches of expenditure. The hon. Gentleman had referred particularly to the large increase of these Estimates between the years 1853 and 1855. There was no doubt good ground in appearance for the observation; for there had been tin increase from £4,800,000 in the former year to £6,580,000 in the latter. But the hon. Gentleman seemed to suppose that that increase was attributable to the circumstance that they had not less than three Ministries in that brief space. He was able to furnish the hon. Gentleman with a different explanation of the matter. In 1854 the present Chancellor of the Exchequer brought in a Bill by which a very extensive transfer of payments was made from the Consolidated Fund and the gross revenue of the Customs and Excise to the Civil Service Estimates—a measure which was regarded by the late Mr. Hume and others as an important financial reform. After the Act passed there was a supple mental Estimate presented the same Session for the services which had been so transferred; and the immediate effect of that measure in 1854, the year in which it became law, was to increase the Civil Ser vice Estimates by the sum of £1,110,000. That amount was made up by payments for the Irish Constabulary, for the Metropolitan Police, Police Courts, for the Slave bounty for Reciprocity Dues, and other services. But while the Civil Service Estimates were thus increased, the charges on the Consolidated Fund were proportionately diminished. In 1853 the charge on the Consolidated Fund for Salaries and Allowances was £268,000; but, in 1855 it was reduced to £161,000, and now it was only £156,000. Then, for the Courts of Justice, in 1853 the charge on the Consolidated Fund stood at £1,107,000, and it fell in the year following to £493,000, and was now £690,000. The charge under another head, "Miscellaneous," which was £233,000 in 1853, was reduced in the year following to £183,000, and. stood at the same amount now. The total charge on the Consolidated Fund in 1853 was £2,510,000. In 1855, after the transfer which he had mentioned took place, it was only £1,723,000; and now it was £1,884,000; so that the total charge on the Consolidated Fund had been permanently reduced by £600,000, or £700,000 by the Act of 1854. The new charges on the Consolidated Fund since 1854 consisted of the salaries of the County Court Judges, and of the compensations for life granted to the holders of abolished offices in the late Testamentary Courts. But the full operation of that Act was not seen in its first year, for it was provided that persons receiving salaries out of the Consolidated Fund should continue to receive them out of it as long as they held their offices, and that afterwards the salaries attached to those offices should be transferred to the Civil Service Estimates; and as every year a certain number of offices fell vacant and were filled up again, the salaries were transferred to those Estimates, causing a slight addition to them, and a corresponding relief to the Consolidated Fund. Some also of the charges which were transferred by that Act had since that period very considerably increased, from circumstances for which the Government were in no way responsible, the charges being regulated strictly by the operation of the provisions of Acts of Parliament. The hon. Gentleman had referred to the slave bounties. In 1854 the amount paid under that head was only £15,000; but in the year 1863 it had risen to £86,000, the increase of £70,000 being entirely due to the increased activity in the slave trade and to the exertions of our cruisers, which received bounties proportioned to the number of vessels captured and of slaves liberated. The reciprocity dues were payments made to particular harbours in compensation for the loss of differential duties they would have collected from foreign shipping, but for international arrangements giving foreign vessels the same privilege as British shipping. In 1854 these dues were only £30,000, but in 1862 they were £53,000, and last year no less than £115,000. The Government, however, had, in this respect, anticipated the Motion of the hon. Gentleman, for, under the Bill brought in two Sessions ago by the President of the Board of Trade, a limit was imposed to the payments under this head, and the whole charge was to cease in ten years. In 1854—the year of transfer—the charge for the Metropolitan Police of London was £100,000; it was now £140,000, the increase arising from the growth of London and the consequent additions to the number of the police. In the charge for the Irish Constabulary, transferred in like manner, an increase of £100,000 had also taken place. He would not, however, take that increase into account because it might be considered by some to be part of the case of the hon. Member, but, adding together the increases which had taken place since 1854 under the three heads of the Slave Trade, the Reciprocity Dues, and the London Police, he found that the Act of 1854 had made an increased charge upon the Civil Service Estimates of no less than £1,250,000. Other transfers had been made to the Civil Service Estimates, besides those consequent upon the Act of 1854. In 1851 a Vote was taken, for the first time, for the London Parks and the Offices of Woods and Works, increasing the Civil Service Estimates by £80,000; but, on the other hand, there was a corresponding increase in the receipts of the Exchequer under the head of Crown Lands, from the revenue derived from which the expenses of the parks and of the two offices had previously been defrayed. The yield from Crown Lands in 1850 did not exceed £160,000; whereas the receipts from Crown Lands now paid into the Exchequer were upwards of £300,000, and that increase, of course, was partly due to the diminution of payments out of gross revenue arising from the transfer. In the Estimates for 1853, a Vote of £60,000 for the Merchant Seamen's Fund appeared for the first time in the Estimates. That fund had been originally formed quite independently of the Government, but it was mismanaged, and Acts were passed to bring it under Government control and to provide for any deficiency. By the first Act the deficiency was to be made good out of the Consolidated Fund, but by the Act of 1853 the fund was directed to be wound up, and disposed of, and the whole charge for pensions to be annually voted. The stock belonging to the fund sold for £150,000, which was paid into the Exchequer, and the claims have since been provided for annually by a Vote in the Civil Service Estimates. No new contributions from merchant seamen, however, were received, so that in course of time the Vote would disappear. There was another transfer to which he would refer—that of the postage for the public Departments. Previous to 1856 the various Departments provided in their respective estimates for their own share of the cost of posting the public correspondence. In 1856 this cost was collected together and formed into a separate Vote; and as it included the postage of the War Department and Admiralty, amounting in that year to £70,000, the effect was to increase the Civil Estimates by that amount, but not to increase the total expenditure of the country, because the sum was merely transferred from the Army and Navy Estimates to the Estimates for Civil Services. This would bring up the increase, arising wholly from mere transfers, to £1,460,000. Then, as to the County Courts, it was quite true that it was originally proposed that these courts should be self-supporting, that the officers should be paid out of the fees; but it was enacted that if these should be insufficient, resort was to be had to the Consolidated Fund. In 1857 it was provided that the salaries of the Judges should be paid out of the Consolidated Fund, and that the registrars and bailiffs should be paid by salary; and that if there was any deficiency in the fees received to pay their salaries, it should be made up by a Vote in Supply. The effect of that provision had been to add £200,000 to the Civil Service Estimates for 1857. There had since been an increase in the receipts from the County Courts, and the amount chargeable on this year's Estimates was reduced to £166,000. Adding the increased charge in connection with County Courts to the other items he had enumerated, it brought up the total increase accounted for to £1,600,000, or rather more. The Vote for county police was entirely new. In 1857 it had been decided to give encouragement to the formation of an efficient county and borough police, by the payment of one-fourth of the expense from the Civil Service Estimates. An immediate addition of £145,000 was thereby made; and as the police increased in numbers and efficiency that Vote must be expected to enlarge its dimensions. The Government contribution of one-fourth to the police of England and Scotland amounted for the present year to no less than £228,000 relieving the local rates to that extent. He had now accounted for a total increase in these Estimates of £1,830,000. With respect to the fees paid in various public offices, the Government were aware of the abuses to which the system was formerly liable, and had already provided, whenever there was the opportunity, that all fees should be payable into the Exchequer, and that all charges formerly paid out of fees, should be voted by that House instead. This made a large apparent increase in the Civil Service Estimates. The sum paid into the Exchequer under the head of fees of regulated Public Offices in 1850 was about £50,000, it was now about£190,000. Before the year 1850 the whole establishment of that House was defrayed out of the fees in respect to private and public business; but in that year the amount was voted in the Civil Service Estimates; the Vote amounted to £60,000, and the fees paid into the Exchequer annually were between £60,000 and £70,000. So, with regard to a great number of other expenses which formerly used to be paid out of the fees derived from public offices, the fees were now paid into the Exchequer, and the full establishment was voted by Parliament. But fees were of two classes—fees received in cash, such as he had just referred to, and fees paid in stamps, and which were carried to the account of the Exchequer under the general head of Stamps. These fee stamps should also be distinguished from the revenue stamps. These fee stamps formed now a considerable portion of the public revenue. The Patent Office appeared to cost £50,000, and the hon. Gentleman had said he thought it ought to support itself. It was a new Vote, dating from 1853, but against it there was a full setoff, because the fees received amounted to £90,000, being nearly double what the House voted for the Patent Office. The expenses of the Probate Court too were formerly provided for out of the fees, but were now paid out of the Civil Service Estimates, and the fees go into the Exchequer instead. The Vote in this case appeared for the first time in 1858, and amounted to a very large sum — the charge for the Probate Courts of England and Ireland, and the Divorce Court of England, for the year 1863, amounting to £94,000. But, on the other hand, the fee stamps amounted to £118,000, which was more than sufficient to defray the expenses of the Courts. The cost of the Admiralty Court Registry, too, was £11,000, but the fee stamps of the Court amounted to more than £9,000. So that while the Estimates were increased by £150,000 for these three offices, the Exchequer received from the fee stamps a sum of £220,000, being a balance in favour of the public revenue of £70,000. Then, again, there was an item which was called in the Revenue Accounts "Extra Receipts." For instance, the House voted the full expenses of the Consular establishment in China, while the Exchequer recovered hack one-third of the expense from the Indian Government; so that if the annual Vote amounted to £60,000, the Indian Government was charged with £20,000 of the sum. Again, the Vote for the Copyhold Commissioners was £32,000, but the Government received back from them £19,000, paid into the Exchequer as extra receipts annually, so that the net charge was not very considerable. There were various other receipts of this kind, amounting altogether to about £70,000 a year, for which he was entitled to take credit in diminution of the Civil Service Estimates. If all the sums that might be set off in this manner against the Civil Service Estimates were added up, they would make a total of £2,220,000, which being deducted against the increase of £3,800,000, would leave a real increased charge of only £1,600,000. Nor was it very difficult to account for this increase. The Vote for Public Education in England and Ireland was undoubtedly the main cause of the increase amounting since 1850 to an increase of £900,000. In 1850 the sums voted for Public Education in the United Kingdom were £250,000; in 1863, they were £1,150,000. But here the Government had anticipated the proposal of the hon. Gentleman, and the new Code they had established would, among other beneficial results, have the effect of reducing the Vote for public education for Great Britain. The reduction for last year was £40,000, and he believed the reduction in the ensuing financial year would be even greater: £100,000 of the increase was due to the Votes for superannuations, which had increased by that amount in the last ten years. But the Government hoped to be able to devise some means by which its growth should be checked for the future, so far as related to the liability of the Treasury to make up the deficiency in the Pension Fund of the various Police forces. This increasing charge had engaged their attention, and means would, it was hoped, be found to stop the increase under this head. After the above deductions from the balance of £1,600,000, all that remained was £600,000, and this was the real debatable amount of increase in the Civil Service Estimates. He did not, however, mean that the same causes which had produced this increase had not operated in other ways. On the contrary, they had so operated: they had swallowed up all the reductions in different directions which had been made during recent years; but the £600,000 represented the whole positive increase since 1850. With regard to this sum, the House must bear in mind, that within the last few years, there had been many new charges and new offices created — for instance, the Civil Service Commission, the Charity Commission, and the Vote for the Land Registry Office. The Bankruptcy compensations, too, had been thrown upon the Civil Service Estimates by Act of Parliament. There was also an entirely new Vote, amounting to £35,000, for contributions in lieu of rates in respect of the Government property. It must also be borne in mind that of late years there had been many heavy charges of a wholly exceptional character. He might refer to the Vote for the Census, £170,000; to a Vote of £400,000 in two years for loss to the Treasury chest in supplying specie for payment of troops in China, and to others which were wholly exceptional. If all these deductions were made, it must, he thought, be admitted that he had considerably reduced the case of the hon. Gentleman. He did not deny, that during late years many Votes had shown a considerable tendency to grow larger. That for the Science and Art Department had increased from £20,000 to £120,000; the Vote for the London Parks was much larger than it was ten years ago; and so, again, with regard to the Vote for Public Buildings. He could only say that the Government would feel much indebted to any hon. Gentleman who would point out any means by which the Civil Service Votes could be reduced without prejudice to the public service. He could assure the hon. Gentleman that the Government were as anxious to promote economy in the public expenditure as the House could possibly be. He did not think the hon. Gentleman had made sufficient allowance for the causes to which the increase of the Civil Service Estimates was due. But he trusted the hon. Gentleman would be content with having moved the Resolution, and induced the discussion of the subject which had taken place, and that he would not press his Motion to a division.


said, the hon. Member who had brought the subject before the House (Mr. Marsh) had alluded to the expense on account of the slave trade. Now he (Mr. Torrens) desired to point out where a saving might very well have been effected in connection with the suppression of that trade. In the Session before last he moved for Returns relating to cases tried by the mixed Portuguese and British Commission at the Cape of Good Hope. Those Returns were well worthy of attention. In 1843 the Court was constituted, and up to 1862 the Commissioner tried eight cases, for which he received an annual salary of £1,200 a year. That would be a pretty sum for each case. The arbitrator received for the nineteen years from 1843 to 1862 the sum of £800 a year, and but one case came before him all that time. In 1862 the office of arbitrator, then held by Mr. Surtees, became vacant, and Her Majesty's Government thought proper to appoint a gentleman who was resident at the Cape to perform the arduous duties of arbitrator. He could not help thinking that a stricter investigation of expenses by the House would have prevented that appointment. When the vacancy occurred in 1862 it was the duty of Her Majesty's Government to ascertain whether there was any work for an arbitrator to perform. He had been told that by treaty it was absolutely necessary that an arbitrator should fill the office; but this was not so, for it was distinctly provided by the Treaty of 1842 that if the arbitratorship became vacant, a magistrate at the Cape or one of the Judges of the Supreme Court might fill it. Now he could not help thinking that these cases showed, that if strict inquiry was made into expenditure abroad and at home, some considerable saving might be made in the public expenditure.


said, he thought the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Marsh) had done great service by his Motion, because he had induced the House to listen to a general statement of expenditure under the head of "Miscellaneous Estimates," which had practically doubled since 1844. He had heard the very able apology which had been made by the Secretary to the Treasury for the increase of that expenditure, and he was quite sure that the House would feel that this was an apology for the House itself, quite as much as for the Government of which the speaker was a Member. The broad fact stated by the hon. Member for Salisbury, he humbly submitted, reflected no credit upon either side of the House, because it proved that having, by our recent course of legislation, interfered in almost everything, we could not show an economy corresponding to our interference. Nothing could be more likely to occur. The Estimates had become so voluminous, that several leading Members on the Liberal side of the House below the gangway had declared that all attempts on their part to sift, item by item, were useless. Well, if this declaration were true—and if it had not been for the exertions of the hon. Member for Evesham (Sir Henry Willoughby), and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Portsmouth (Sir Francis Baring), it would have been true without mitigation; if it were in any degree true, then it showed that the general tendency of recent legislation had been to spread a system of centralization which had proved extravagant in this respect—that the authority into whose hands the concentration of administration had thus fallen, had not only declared itself, but proved hitherto incapable of exercising efficient economy. They had heard the Secretary to the Treasury excuse this increase of expenditure by adducing the facts of the transfer of the expenditure in counties, of the transfer of the control of the expenditure in boroughs, and of the control of the expenditure of the Courts of Law to the Treasury and the Government. What did this all prove except that they were gradually rendering the Government of this country a sort of universal contractor. They dealt in law; they had not yet meddled, with physic; but they disseminated a very doubtful theology. He asked whether it would not be far better if these matters were left to local administration and local supervision? Was it not far better that the unfettered intellect of the country should, by a subdivision, be brought effectively to bear on the administration of these several departments of social government, so that by a direct and personal supervision that economy could be ensured which, according to repeated declarations, that House was unable to effect. The present system manifested a tendency towards centralization which was always extravagant, as proved in America, in our colonies, and in France. He, for one, was ready to assist in promoting a reduction of this expenditure, and to vote with the hon. Member for Salisbury, if he pressed his Motion to a division. If the Motion was not pressed to a division, then he would join in the endeavour to effect this object when the Estimates were produced, by going through the arduous but necessary task of examining them item by item.


said, the House was greatly indebted to the hon. Member for Salisbury for having brought this subject under its notice. He was himself disposed to recommend a gradual shifting of the charge for education to local residents, and that it should not be allowed to remain a burden upon the public exchequer. With regard to education, the tendency of the Government of late had been to make provision for it by local rates which was the natural and right system: he therefore approved the steps which the Government had taken in that direction, but he hoped they would go further. When the Schools for Science and Art were first founded, it was the intention of the Committee that there should be only one central establishment in London supported by Parliament, and that the schools throughout the country should be kept up by local exertions. A considerable saving to the public might be effected in the direction which he had pointed out.


said, that after the appeal made to him by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Treasury, he would withdraw his Resolution.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.