HC Deb 26 May 1865 vol 179 cc948-52

Order for Committee read.

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


said, that in 1863 an opinion had been expressed by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, when introducing the fortification scheme, which would be perfectly applicable in support of the Motion which he was about to make. That opinion had been already read in the House that night, and he would therefore content himself at that late hour with moving, that in the opinion of this House the expense of the contracts for Dockyard Extensions to be authorized by this Bill would best be defrayed by Terminable Annuities, as in the case of the Fortifications, under the Act 26 &c 27 Vict. c. 80.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, the expense of the Contracts for Dockyard Extensions to be authorized by this Bill would best be defrayed by Terminable Annuities, as in the case of the Fortifications under the Act 26 and 27 Vic. cap. 80,"—(Sir James Elphinstone.) —instead thereof.

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


hoped that the Committee would not consent to such an ignominious expedient for meeting the expenses of the country. He regretted very much that it bad been found possible for individual Members of the House to propose Motions which enabled the House to escape its responsibilities by the expedient of hiding from the public what it was about. If there was one thing which all of them ought to advocate it was plainness and simplicity in their proceedings. In certain instances be did not deny that certain expenses might be met by an addition to the debt of the country. This was done in the case of the abolition of the slave trade; and in 1860, when the country had to provide for some £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 of war expenditure, Parliament thought fit after careful consideration to provide for the expenses of the fortifications by an addition to the debt of the country. He remembered well that at that time the hon. and gallant Member proposed that they should take—say £20,000,000, and provide for the expenses of harbours of refuge. [Sir JAMES ELPHINSTONE: Docks I said.] Such a proposal as this ought to be resisted by every man who adhered to the principle that the annual expenditure ought to be met out of the income of the year. The Motion after all was a futile Motion. If it had the slightest chance of being carried the bench opposite would not have been so empty, or rather it would not have been so thinly occupied. Certainly the hon. Baronet the Member for Stamford (Sir Stafford Northcote) would have been there to object to it, and by inference the right hon. Member for Bucks would have been there also to support the great financial authority of the other side. Armed, therefore, with this cumulative authority, he appealed to the Committee not to sanction this ill-considered Motion.


said, the question had been fully discussed at an earlier period of the evening before the Chancellor of the Exchequer came down to the House, and the right hon. Gentleman would find that the Vote which the First Lord of the Treasury proposed was £11,000,000. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: £5,000,000.] When the right hon. Gentleman talked of ignominious expedients, be seemed to have forgotten altogether that he was Chancellor of the Exchequer when this loan of £11,000,000 was proposed, and he certainly must have concurred in it.


thought that the course taken by the right hon. Gentleman was very singular. If he had attended in the House, instead of spending his time more agreeably elsewhere, he would have beard the argument which had been used. He was glad to bear the right hon. Gentleman express his approval of plainness and simplicity of dealing, but nothing could be more plain and simple, or more calculated to let the public know what they were doing in such matters as these, than asking for a lump sum like this. As the right hon. Gentleman had quoted authorities on the Opposition side of the House on which he seemed to place great weight, perhaps be would refer to the speech of the noble Lord at the head of the Government in proposing a loan for the fortification scheme, and if he could answer these arguments be might make out a case against this Motion.


said, he was reluctant to take part in the debate, but as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had contradicted his right hon. Friend be would refer him to Hansard, where the noble Lord was distinctly stated to have said that the recommendations of the Commissioners amounted to an outlay of £11,000,000. [Mr. CORRY: Read on.] He found that in the Resolution proposed by the noble Lord a sum of £2,000,000 was taken for the first year, the noble Lord stating that it was as much as could be advantageously laid out within the twelve months, and that the expenditure of the other £9,000,000 would be spread over future years. It would not do, therefore, for the right hon. Gentleman to get up and shelter himself under the shield of "Parliament in its wisdom," and condemn as "ignominious" a course which the Government of which be was the Finance Minister had themselves taken.


said, there was a mistake on the part of the hon. Member. It was true that the recommendation of the Commissioners was for the amount stated by the hon. Gentleman, but the application of my noble Friend was limited to a sum of £5,000,000 in all.


observed that the circumstances of the case of the fortifications and those of the dockyards were quite different. In the former case a new construction was necessary; in the latter only an extension was required.

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

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 1 (Power to make Contracts for Works).

In reply to Mr. CORRY,


said, that the Malta dock was not included in the Bill, because an annual Vote of a comparatively small sum would be sufficient for the works there.


asked what guarantee the contractors for the works scheduled in this Bill would have that the Government would propose a Vote in the Estimates to pay them for their contract. The sum for payment for the conveyances of the mails between Dover and Calais under the present arrangement had never been proposed in Committee of Supply.


said, that the last subject to which the hon. Gentleman opposite ought to call attention was the Churchward contract. Surely after the Report of the Committee and the ratification of that Report by the House of Commons, the Government would not have been justified in proposing any Vote for the continuance of that contract.


, as one of the Members of the Board of Admiralty who had signed the Churchward contract, declared that he had never seen any reason to regret that step, and he denied that the House of Commons had ever pronounced a condemnation of that contract.


said, if the hon. Gentleman was dissatisfied with the decision of the House, he could at any time move a Resolution on the subject, and he was prepared to debate the question with him.


said, the right hon. Gentleman knew that no person could propose a Vote for money except Her Majesty's Ministers.


said, he found he had understated the case, because he was informed that the subject was discussed in Committee of Supply, and afterwards upon the bringing up of the Report the proposition was made to omit certain words which raised the question.


again declared that no Vote was ever proposed. This was the only mode in which the question could be raised, and he challenged the right hon. Gentleman to raise it by proposing a Vote.


said, the security for the contractors would be that the engagements had received the sanction of Parliament.

Clause agreed, to.

Remaining Clauses agreed, to.

House resumed.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered on Monday next.