HC Deb 27 March 1867 vol 186 cc702-3

Order for nominating Select Committee on Protection from Fire, read.


said, he thought this was a fitting occasion on which to call the attention of the House to the very heavy expense thrown upon the country in the payment of witnesses summoned to give evidence before Select Committees. Much of that expense was caused by the needless detention in London of witnesses whose examination occupied only a comparatively short time. The control of this matter lay very much with the Chairman of the Committee, and he hoped hon. Members in that position would exert themselves to put a stop to what had become a great abuse. If the Chairman only took the trouble beforehand to ascertain the time which the examination of each witness was likely to last, very large sums might be saved. He would state to the House a few facts disclosed by a Return for which he had moved. Last Session, during the sitting of the Committee on the Edinburgh Annuity Tax, one gentleman from Leith was paid for ten days' attendance, though he was examined on only one day: a witness from Edinburgh, who was examined on three days, was paid for ten; another from Edinburgh was paid for twelve days, but examined only on two. During the sitting of the Mines Committee last Session a gentleman from Barnsley was paid for ten days, but was only four days under examination; a gentleman from Glasgow was paid for eleven days, having been examined on two; a gentleman from Sheffield was paid for eight days, and examined on one day; a gentleman from Wigan was examined on one day, and paid for eight days. If hon. Members looked at the list of witnesses, they would see, as a general rule, that there was not the slightest attempt made to control the expenses in such cases. During the sitting of the Committee on Irish Land Tenure, in the year 1865, a gentleman received the sum of £81 12s. for his attendance before the Committee. He was examined on only two days, but he received payment for thirty-two days' attendance. He thought those were monstrous abuses. He found, too, that the periods of the year during which the attendance of the witnesses was greatest were those at which the Derby and Ascot meetings took place, and these gentlemen went about London amusing themselves at the public expense. He hoped this matter would engage the serious attention of the hon. Gentlemen appointed to serve as Chairmen of Select Committees, and that they would do what they could to keep the expenses of witnesses within ordinary compass.

Motion agreed to.

Select Committee on Fire Protection nominated:—Mr. BEACH, Mr. AGAR-ELLIS, Mr. GORST, Lord RICHARD GROSVENOR, Mr. HORSFALL, Mr. KINNAIRD, Mr. LANYON, Mr. LEEMAN, Mr. LUSK, Mr. M'LAGAN, Mr. MILLER, Mr. READ, Mr. HENRY B. SHERIDAN, Mr. TURNER, and Mr. WHITMORE:—Power to send for persons, papers, and records; Five to be the quorum.

House adjourned at two Minutes before Six o'clock.