§ Resolutions [July 26] reported.
§ Vote 1 (£4,970 purchase of old gun metal, to be employed in the construction of the National Memorial to his late Royal Highness the Prince Consort).
§ MR. MONK
said, he believed some misunderstanding existed with regard to this Vote. After the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer last night on the subject, it was impossible for the Committee not to have agreed to the Vote; but it appeared that there had not been that unanimous agreement on the part of the late Government with regard to this gift that had been supposed, because at a later period of the evening they heard from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone) that the Government of Lord Palmerston had not promised to give seventy tons of old gun metal for the memorial, nor did it appear that Lord Palmerston had himself expressly consented to their being given. If it had not been for the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer he should have felt very much inclined to divide the Committee as to the propriety of the grant. Perhaps 1605 the right hon. Gentleman the present Chancellor of the Exchequer would be kind enough to give some further explanation.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I think that on reflection the House will be of opinion that the Committee came to a right decision yesterday on this Vote. I shall very briefly put the facts before the House, and I will endeavour to do so without any gloss, the Vote being one which does not concern us except as a matter of official duty. When Lord Palmerston asked the House to vote a sum of £50,000 towards a National memorial of the Prince Consort he said that this would be the sole amount they would be asked for; and that undertaking has been rigidly fulfilled. At the same time, Lord Palmerston gave a promise to the Committee for managing the matter that gun metal should be granted to them for the bronze work of the memorial. I have been told Lord Palmerston made a statement to that effect in the House, and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Devizes (Mr. Darby Griffith) rose yesterday, and, speaking from memory, confirmed that impression. On this arrangement and assurance of Lord Palmerston all the estimates were made, and the contracts entered into. The gun metal was not then wanted, and therefore no immediate call was made upon the Treasury to fulfil their engagement; but a year ago, when the structure had reached that point when it was necessary to ask for this metal, it was applied for. Lord Palmerston mentioned the matter in the Cabinet, when some of the Members of the Government did not approve of the course taken in regard to it. In a letter I have seen Lord Palmerston states this objection; but he repeats his original engagement and says that, noth with standing the objection on the part of his Colleagues, if required he was prepared to submit a Vote to the House for the metal. Under these circumstances, I am sure the House will feel that it would be proceeding in a captious spirit to turn round now, when Lord Palmerston is no longer here to uphold his engagement, to rescind that agreement, on which practical men have practically acted in perfect good faith, simply because some technical objection has been raised by some of his Colleagues. I do not think the House will feel disposed so to act, but of course I am in the hands of the House. I am only performing my duty, when—an appeal having been made to the Government to fulfil an engagement which originated with another Ministry—I ask the House to consent to the grant in the shape 1606 of a money Vote, although actually the money will never leave the Exchequer. The letter of Lord Palmerston distinctly states the amount of gun metal which was to be appropriated to the memorial. Therefore, I am not without expectation that the hon. Gentleman will feel, on reflection, that we should not be acting fairly or in a liberal spirit if we took advantage of a petty objection to throw obstacles in the way of carrying out the engagement.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Then the other Votes agreed to.
§ MR. HUNT
said, he could not allow the last Vote to pass without acknowledging the very kind and valuable assistance he had received from his hon. Friend who had preceded him in his office of Financial Secretary to the Treasury, with regard not only to these Estimates, but all the other Treasury business, and also for his unvarying kindness and courtesy.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he did not expect such a compliment, and conceived he was only doing his duty in assisting his hon. Friend to the utmost of his power.