HC Deb 18 February 1867 vol 185 c463

said, he wished to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, Whether the scheme submitted to the Treasury by the late Secretary of State for War, and supported by the present Secretary of State for War, which was designed to remedy the grievances of the Military Store Department, has been finally rejected by the Lords Commissioners; and, if so, to state upon what grounds a measure judged necessary by the War Office as the best means of increasing the efficiency of a Military Department, and of redressing grievances which are admitted to exist in it, has been rendered inoperative?


Sir, I must ask leave to point out to the House the unusual character of the Question. The hon. Member for Stirling does not ask whether a decision has been come to, and on what grounds; but whether there is a difference of opinion between two Departments of the Government, and whether I can state the reasons given by one Department for differing from the other. It must be obvious to the hon. Member that no Government business can be carried on unless matters under consideration are freely discussed between Departments. When a decision has been arrived at, the Government, as a Government, is responsible for it, and it is open to any hon. Member to challenge the propriety of it; but I submit to the House that it will not be to the advantage of the public service that a Question should be asked and answered here as to what difference of opinion exists between one Member of Government and another on a given question before it is decided. Therefore, I hope the hon. Member will not think I am treating him with disrespect when I decline to set a precedent by giving a categorical answer, which could only be mischievous in its results.