Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [21st April],
That the Resolution of the House of the 9th day of February 1858, relative to Proceedings in Committee of Supply,—'That when it has been proposed to omit or reduce items in a Vote, the Question shall be afterwards put upon the original Vote or upon the reduced Vote, as the case may be, without amendment,'—be rescinded."—(Mr. Ayrton.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the said Resolution be rescinded."
§ Debate resumed.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
, in moving an Amendment in the standing Resolutions having reference to proceedings in Committee of Supply, said his object was to meet the objections 1465 pointed out a few evenings ago by the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton). In the 4th Resolution there were the words "without amendment," which he believed had been inserted after the Resolutions came down from the Select Committee. He would propose that those words should be left out and that this Resolution should be adopted—That after a Question has been proposed from the Chair for a reduction of the whole Vote, no Motion shall be made for omitting or reducing any item.He hoped there would be an understanding that if a Motion to omit an item had failed, and that subsequently there was a reduction of the Vote as a whole, the hands of the Government would not be tied in respect of the mode in which the reduction was to be carried out; but that they would be at liberty to make it on the particular item which had been affirmed in Committee, or on any other portion of the Vote. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by proposing his Amendment and the new Resolution.
If I understand the Resolution, it is likely to place the matter upon a very reasonable footing, so as at once to secure the order of our proceedings, and at the same time to give to all Members of the House the fullest scope. Any proposal for a Vote in Supply must divide itself into two brandies—first, the general structure of the Vote, and, secondly, the particular items of which it is composed. In future we shall consider, in the first instance, the particular items of the Vote; and, after that, it will be open to any hon. Member to raise the general question of the structure of the Vote, and its general fitness for the purpose for which it is intended. Now, the right hon. Gentleman, on the part of the Government, proposes that in cases where particular items may have been confirmed by Vote of the Committee, if subsequently there should be a reduction of the aggregate amount of Vote, a difficulty might arise in the mind of the Government whether they would be acting in accordance with the intention of the House if they reduced any particular item. Well, Sir, I think it is obvious that if the Committee confirm an item in a Vote it must be understood to do it with reference to the general amount. I must be understood to mean that the amount put down for this particular item is not unreasonable.
§ MR. GOLDNEY
said, it appeared to him that if there were six items in a Vote four of which were unexceptionable, and exceptions were taken to the two remaining items, and on a division on the latter items the Government gained a narrow majority, and if afterwards a reduction of the whole Vote was moved and carried, it would be extremely undesirable that the items which had not been objected to should have to be reduced, while those to which exception had been taken must necessarily be left in their entirety.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goldney) had misunderstood the nature of the proposal, which was that if, for instance, one or two items were affirmed and the Vote itself afterwards reduced, the whole of the items would be remitted to the Government for re-consideration.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
- 1. Resolved, That when it has been proposed to omit or reduce items in a Vote, the Question shall be afterwards put upon the original Vote or upon the reduced Vote, as the case may be.—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)
- 2. Resolved, That after a Question has been proposed from the Chair for a reduction of the whole Vote, no Motion shall be made for omitting or reducing any item.—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)