§ SUPPLY—considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
(1.) Question again proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £1,794, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1871, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Offices of the Registrars of Friendly Societies in England, Scotland, and Ireland.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer brought in a Bill on this subject he stated that the duties of registrar were of an insignificant character, and might be performed by a clerk of the Board of Trade, which would save the country £1,000 a year, which was paid to the late Mr. Tidd Pratt. He found, however, that £800 a year was given to the present registrar, who was also in receipt of £1,200 a year as assistant solicitor to the Treasury, so that that gentleman was either receiving his salary as solicitor without having a corresponding amount of work, or he was receiving this £800 a year without justification. He moved that the salary of the registrar be omitted from the Vote.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Item of £800, for the Registrar of Friendly Societies, be omitted from the proposed Vote."—(Mr. Rylands.)
§ MR. ALDERMAN LUSK
trusted that the matter would be allowed to stand over for this Session, at all events, as the members of the friendly societies attached great value to the existence of the office.
§ MR. WHITWELL
believed that what duties there were could be as well performed by a clerk of the Board of Trade as by an official with £800 a year, and supported the reduction all the more readily as the continued sanction of the present arrangement might ultimately involve a claim for compensation if the office were abolished.
§ MR. STANSFELD
explained that the appointment was only temporary, and could in no case give rise to any claim for compensation. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had proposed to deal with this appointment, and modify the character of the work, but had not yet 671 been able to carry out his intention, and a Commission was about to be appointed to inquire into the operation of these societies. That Commission would be immediately appointed; but until it had reported, and the Government had considered its recommendations, it would be necessary that some person should hold the office. The most reasonable way of managing the matter was to appoint some one to the office temporarily. The effect of the Amendment, if successful, would be that the business of the Department under the Act of Parliament could not be done.
§ MR. ACLAND
said, he wished it to be clearly understood that the work done in the registrar's office was by no means of a perfunctory or formal character. The most vigilant watchfulness was exercised in the office over the various benefit societies which came under it. What was to be regretted was that the signature of Mr. Tidd Pratt to the legality of friendly societies was taken to mean a great deal more than it really did.
§ MR. HERMON
said, that if the assistant registrar had time to earn £800 in another department, he must be overpaid in the law department.
§ SIR JAMES LAWRENCE
said, that the services of the late Mr. Tidd Pratt as registrar were most valuable, and the necessity for obtaining his signature to the rides of a benefit society had often prevented the establishing of rules which would have operated most prejudicially upon the members of such societies.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself had stated that the office held by Mr. Tidd Pratt could be done away with without detriment to the public service, and its duties distributed among other Departments, so that the salary of £1,000 a year could be altogether saved.
§ MR. CANDLISH
said, that the duties of the office could have been delegated to the assistant registrar, who had a salary of £500 a year, and who, as a matter of practice, did the main part of the work, if he was not clothed with the main responsibility.
§ MR. STANSFELD
said, the assistant registrar was appointed in consequence of the great accumulation of the work.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.672
§ (2.) £241,656, Stationery, Printing, &c.
§ MR. MACFIE
suggested that The London Gazette, instead of being sold at a high figure, should be reduced in price. He believed that would be true economy; for though a profit was realized upon it now, its sale was very limited, and if the price were lowered the sale would greatly increase. He also suggested that greater facilities should be given to the public for the purchase of Parliamentary Papers, which at present were only sold to the extent of £542.
§ In reply to Mr. WHITWELL,
§ In reply to Mr. HERMON,
§ MR. STANSFELD
said, there was a reduction of nearly £30,000 on the Stationery Vote, but it was obtained by legitimate economy, and not by means of keeping a smaller stock of stationery on hand.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, that the sale of waste paper in the Stationery Department and in Hansard's office had realized £10,000. It would be very beneficial if a portion of the Parliamentary Papers, which were of general public interest, should be sent to public libraries and museums.
§ In reply to Mr. CANDLISH,
§ MR. STANSFELD
said, that the sum of £23,000 received for advertisements in The London Gazette was obtained partly from private advertisements, and partly from public advertisements inserted by the various Departments of the Executive. The item, therefore, was not all profit.
§ Vote agreed to.
(3.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £17,524, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1871, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues, and of the Office of Land Revenue Records and Inrolments.
§ MR. ALDERMAN W. LAWRENCE
said, it was very difficult to describe the position held by Mr. Gore and Mr. Howard. From the remarks made respecting this office the other day, they seemed to be almost above the law and beyond the purview of this House. Still, he did not consider that they were quite heaven-born administrators; and it was instruct- 673 tive to note that in the Report of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests and Land Revenues for the year 1868–9, which was the last year they could refer to, the Woods and Forests, once the principal sources of Revenue of this Department, yielded from some 120,000 acres a gross revenue of £49,532, the expenditure being £48,763, leaving a net balance of £769. But if a fair proportion of the Vote of £26,958 for Salaries, Law Charges, and Expenses of the Department be charged to the Woods and Forests, the expenditure will be found to exceed the income by many thousand pounds. It was true that the expenditure on Windsor Forest was £20,000, while that on the other forests was £28,700. Everyone knew that the New Forest contained something like 63,000 acres. The receipts from that forest last year amounted to £15,534, and the expenditure to £13,766, leaving a profit of only £1,768, a sum on which the Commissioners could scarcely pride themselves. He thought that by a judicious appropriation of some parts of that forest, it might be made much more remunerative without depriving the people of the enjoyment which it afforded them. He was convinced that nothing would be done by the Commissioners unless pressure was brought to bear on them from outside. It was said they were bound by their oaths to obtain as much money as possible for the State, and that was, he supposed, the reason why they dug gravel pits in Blackheath; and it would, perhaps, be gratifying to the inhabitants of Blackheath to know that a sum of £53 had been spent on levelling those gravel pits, which, was exactly one year's income from their working. With regard to the Thames Embankment, which was one of the most beautiful as it was one of the greatest works of the century, he could not but point out the want of taste displayed by the Commissioners in erecting a dead wall on the land side of the Embankment, instead of having a beautiful railing, such as that which surrounded Hyde Park. He supposed we might consider ourselves fortunate if the Commissioners, in obedience to their agreement and oaths, did not let out this wall for advertising purposes, by which means possibly £700 a year might be realized, if a proper appeal were made to sensational advertisers. 674 The Commissioners of Woods and Forests had obstructed the improvements at Hamilton Place and Park Lane. He could not avoid referring to the very heavy item for the Queen's Road (better known as Palace Gardens), Kensington, it being no less than £1,185, from which £307 received from the inhabitants was to be deducted. Vet cabs were not permitted to be driven on this road, which certainly required alteration. A sum of £7,860 was charged for legal expenses, and this, in his opinion, was very high. The expenditure last year of receivers, for their salaries and incidental expenses, was £14,500, which, added to the sum of £27,227 for offices and including law expenses, amounted to £41,727. He was not prepared to move the reduction of the Vote; but he should like to have some explanation of the figures he had brought before hon. Members.
§ MR. MELLOR
said, that his analysis of those accounts brought him to very much the same results as those previously indicated by the worthy Alderman. The receipts from all sources upon those various estates were £446,173, while the total expenditure upon the Department was no less than £101,717, or over 22 per cent. This was a matter which really required the attention of gentlemen at the head of these Departments, and he hoped that some attention would be paid to it during the Recess, else he would find himself compelled next Session to move the omission of the Vote altogether.
§ MR. GOLDNEY
said, that the evidence taken before a recent Committee showed that all the establishment charges for the Woods and Forest Department were voted in the Estimates, whilst all other expenses were, to a certain extent, in the discretion of the heads of the Department, subject, however, more or less, to the approval of the Treasury. Unfortunately the Treasury understood their duty to be to get as much money as they could from the estates, without considering the means of enjoyment or the privileges of the public. He concurred in thinking that the whole subject ought to be reconsidered next year, for there undoubtedly existed a growing feeling of dissatisfaction with the mode in which these large estates, and especially the New Forest, were managed. In a few days it would be his duty, at 675 the request of the people living in the neighbourhood of the New Forest, to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether the Commissioners would not abstain from incurring further expense in planting that estate with timber. He was one of those who did not believe in the growth of timber. If land would produce a rental of 10s. an acre, then it did not pay to grow timber on it; and there was no justification for growing timber in the New Forest, except when the ships of the Navy used to be built of oak, and it was thought expedient to have a supply of seasoned timber obtained in that way, because in times of emergency they might not be able to get it from private traders. That state of things had, however, now passed away, and those large estates might be made much more productive in a pecuniary point of view, and also much more conducive to the pleasure and recreation of the community.
§ MR. M. CHAMBERS
said, they had an opportunity the other evening of hearing what were the Prerogatives of the Crown in that matter, and the nature of the contract between the Crown and its subjects when any new Sovereign succeeded to the Throne. It was well known that estates that originally belonged to the Crown, and were formerly managed by Royal functionaries, at the commencement of every reign became national property, the Crown being voted a certain income, and the public taking those estates into their own management. For that purpose the Commissioners of Woods and Forests had been appointed, and the question which any ordinary man of business would ask was, whether those estates were now managed profitably and for the advantage of the nation? The answer unfortunately must be that they were notoriously and infamously mismanaged, and of this fact the New Forest was one illustration. He did not know who the Commissioners now charged with the duty of looking after those estates for the benefit of the nation were, and therefore it must not be supposed he was making a personal attack on them, but he must say he believed that property had not been managed either carefully or creditably. Not only in many instances was little or no revenue derived from this valuable property, but when the account was taken the 676 balance was on the wrong side, and losses had resulted consequently. It was now proposed to act as spendthrifts and dispose of the estates, whereas by good management a larger income might be received from them. As to the Now Forest, he did not agree that all the timber should be cut down, and the place parcelled out in farms. There was a Bill now before the House in reference to Epping Forest, over which the Crown possessed extensive rights; but unless the public looked uncommonly sharp those rights would be sacrificed for the sake of convenience and to save trouble. He would not propose any reduction of the Vote; but he earnestly suggested that steps should be taken by the Government to make the Crown Lands as profitable as possible.
§ MR. STANSFELD
said, he was aware that the Office of Woods and Forests was not a popular Department, because the interests which it was their duty to defend did not always commend themselves to popular approval. He, however, should not be doing his duty if he did not make some reply to the remarks of the hon. Member for London (Mr. Alderman W. Lawrence), who had introduced this subject, and whom he should hold responsible for the speech which had succeeded his own. [A laugh.] Nothing could please his hon. Friend. When the Commissioners sought to manage the Crown estates profitably, he said they were disregarding the interests and rights of the public. With regard to allowing cabs to go through Palace Gardens, to do so would be a breach of the covenants of the leases on which the houses were built. He must know that before that road was executed the land was Crown property let upon certain leases, one of the conditions of which was that the road was to be kept a private one under an Act of Parliament. Then, the hon. Member for the City had talked about the Thames Embankment; but he had no intention of following his example and reopening that subject further than to say that the Commissioners of Woods had felt bound, in the discharge of their duty, to take care that the rights of the Crown should be secured. The hon. Member, referring to the administration of the Royal Forests, had dealt with Windsor Forest as though it were one of the Royal Forests, which was not the case, it being merely a sort of appendage 677 to the Castle, and being appropriated for the recreation of the public. The hon. Member had said that that forest only produced a balance of £700 per annum profit; but he must bear in mind that the property was not maintained with a view to profit. The total receipts for the Royal Forests, properly so-called, for the year 1868–9, amounted to £42,606 15s., against an expenditure of £28,752 18s. 8d.; but that expenditure included large sums expended on capital account for making new plantations. When the subject of the New Forest was under discussion in that House some months ago he had stated that he could not consent to deal with that forest on an account which merely showed the receipts and the expenditure, unless the sums expended or accruing on capital account were plainly shown. Mr. Clutton, the well-known eminent surveyor to the Office of Works, had just made his Report to the Treasury on that footing, and that Report would receive the most careful consideration of the Treasury, who would be prepared to advise the House of Commons upon the subject next year, and to suggest the course that should be pursued with respect to that property. The administration by the Office of Woods of the ordinary property of the Crown, consisting of houses, farms, &c, would compare favourably with that of the best managed private estates, the gross expenditure being 10 per cent on the total receipts, but 4 per cent was due to the property tax allowed to Crown tenants, and the various other fixed charges over which the Commissioners of Woods had virtually no control, and 2 per cent was expended for repairs and other necessary expenses, leaving only 4 per cent for the costs of actual management. In reference to the last somewhat remarkable speech to which they had listened, he must say that the hon. and learned. Member for Devonport (Mr. M. Chambers), when he charged the Commissioners of Woods with having infamously mismanaged the Crown property, should have been prepared to substantiate that charge by facts and figures, and not have contented himself with mere vague generalities. As far as his personal knowledge of the Commissioners went, he must say that they were actuated by a most rigid sense of duty with reference to the trust imposed upon them. He might further say that both the surveyor and the solicitor to the Commissioners were gentle 678 men whose eminence in their professions was a guarantee that the confidence of the Commissioners and of the Government in them was not misplaced. It would be as well for hon. Members to remember that in all matters where a directionary power was to be exercised it was the Treasury and not the Commissioners who were responsible for the course to be adopted.
§ MR. SCLATER-BOOTH
remarked that his right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Stansfeld) had done no more than justice to the position and the conduct of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. The right hon. Gentleman was also correct in stating that the Treasury were responsible in all cases where the most rigorous exercise of the rights of the Crown were departed from. He protested against the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Devonport (Mr. M. Chambers), which contained statements which could not be established. The net revenue of the Crown estates had increased, and was likely to increase from year to year. The 14,000 or 15,000 acres of which Windsor Park consisted were a vast pleasure ground, which was available for the people as well as for the Sovereign. With respect to the New Forest, he trusted his right hon. Friend would consider well before he determined upon the policy of breaking up that ancient and remarkable district, though it might be many years before the young plantations were likely to supply a pecuniary return. In his opinion, no gentlemen were more unjustly accused in that House of niggardliness than those who in these matters had the management of the rights of the Crown.
§ MR. GOLDNEY
said, he concurred with the Secretary to the Treasury that no estates had been better managed simply with a view to pecuniary return; but it was a question, nevertheless, whether a larger portion of the property of the Crown might not be devoted to public purposes.
§ MR. MUNTZ
said, he did not see why hon. Gentlemen who criticized these Estimates should be charged with attacking the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. He had watched the course of this Department for a long time, and the language used in its defence had 679 always been—"We hope that, next Session, something will be done." He, however, would take the liberty to propose something this year. He found that the receiver general was paid £600 a year; the assistant receiver, £400; the solicitor, £1,800; a clerk, £550; and two other clerks, £250 and £210 a year respectively. Without objecting to any of the salaries, he would move that the Vote be reduced by £1,000.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £16,524, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1871, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues, and of the Office of Land Revenue Records and Inrolments."—(Mr. Muntz.)
said, the hon. Member (Mr. Muntz) would himself be amazed and abashed if he succeeded in carrying his Motion, as the effect of it would be to take away the salaries of certain gentlemen. He objected to the hon. Member drawing his bow at a venture and moving the reduction of the Vote, without pointing out in detail the mode by which the reduction was to be effected. The hon. and learned Member for Devonport (Mr. M. Chambers) had made some heavy charges. When charges were made against members of the permanent Civil Service they ought either to be met, or inquiries ought to be made. He believed that the two gentlemen who were at the Woods and Forests might vie with any other gentlemen in the Civil Service as regarded the manner in which their duties were discharged. He hoped that his hon. and learned Friend would recede from the broad proposition he had laid down, for which he had not quoted authority. Such charges ought not to be made without good ground, or unless it was designed that an investigation should take place. The Treasury were as responsible for the acts of the Woods and Forests as for any other Department of the Government. There had been a steady increase, amounting, he believed, to £5,000 a year in the rental of the Department of Woods and Forests during a period nearly approaching 20 years. They had now reached the time when, under the management of those gentlemen, the revenue paid into the Exchequer—which was £385,000 this year—equalled exactly the charge which had been made 680 upon the Civil List. He hoped his hon. and learned Friend would mitigate his condemnation of the Department.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, he thought that the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz) was scarcely open to the charge made against him by the right hon. Gentleman of being deficient in detail. On the contrary, he appeared to be eminently remarkable for detail, for he went through the salaries of the officers mentioned in the Vote, and approved of them all. Then he arrived at the logical conclusion that it was necessary to reduce the Vote. In fact, the hon. Member had the same command of detail that characterized his distinguished predecessor, Mr. Joseph Hume, in the old days; only he did not reach conclusions so satisfactory. He trusted, therefore, that the hon. Gentleman would not press his Motion to a Division. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had adverted to some painful circumstances which rendered it necessary for him to effect a change in the administration of the Woods and Forests. When he (Mr. Disraeli) was Chancellor of the Exchequer the whole of the management of the Woods and Forests was, in consequence of that change, brought under his consideration, and he had to go minutely into the subject. The gentlemen who at present held the office of Commissioners were in no way connected with him in political life, and he concluded that laborious investigation with the impression that there was no private property in this country better managed than were the Crown estates. He quite agreed with the Prime Minister in thinking that there were no public servants who were more deserving of the confidence of the country than the gentlemen to whom he alluded.
§ MR. M. CHAMBERS
said, he had purposely abstained from details for fear the main issue should be lost sight of; and declaring that he know none of the Commissioners, he disowned any intention of making a personal attack, but charged all the mismanagement home to the Government as trustees of the pro- 681 perty. The estates had been infamously mismanaged; the country had even been confronted with a balance on the wrong side.
§ MR. ALDERMAN W. LAWRENCE
said, he hoped the £35,000 for irrecoverable rents would be written off. He believed the amount was made up of quit rents due from Ireland during the last 120 years, and was accurately described in the Commissioners' Report as "irrecoverable."
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
(4.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £22,028, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1871, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Works and Public Buildings.
, in rising to call attention to the office of Director of Works and Buildings, and to move that the salary be reduced by the sum of £750, said, he meant to cast no reflection upon the gentleman to whose Office he had referred; his objections would be directed against the new system which had been inaugurated in the Department. He was glad to see the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury in his place, because the First Commissioner of Works, when questioned on these subjects, had invariably shifted the responsibility which ordinarily attached to his Office upon Cabinet Ministers; and there might now be an opportunity of ascertaining the views of the Government upon the most extraordinary alterations which had recently been made in this most important Office. The Office of Works had always had the direction of the architectural works belonging to the Government, and therefore the First Commissioner had associated with him architects of the greatest eminence. For many years that distinguished gentleman, Mr. Pennethorne, filled the post of salaried architect and surveyor, receiving as remuneration £1,500. He continued in that position until 1868 when Mr. Layard, becoming First Commissioner, proposed to divide the Office into two, so as to pay 682 Mr. Pennethorne £750, and appropriate the remainder to a new officer, to be called Inspector of Works and Buildings. The matter was referred to a committee of the Treasury, who approved of the suggested arrangement, at the same time expressing an opinion that the First Commissioner required the aid of an officer conversant in a high degree with architecture. Mr. Fergusson was accordingly appointed Inspector of Works and Buildings; but in pursuance of a previous intimation which he had given, resigned on the appointment of the present First Commissioner of Works. That right hon. Gentleman than united the functions previously discharged by Mr. Pennethorne and Mr. Fergusson in the office held by Captain Galton. However eminent Captain Galton might be as an engineer and in other respects, he was not an architect. The gallant gentleman himself did not profess to be one. The result of this arrangement was not discovered until the debate on the alleged dismissal of Mr. Barry. Then his right hon. Friend must see that in the resignation of Mr. Fergusson there was an opportunity for an entire reorganization of the duties of the Office. [Cries of "Agreo!"] If interrupted, he should move to report Progress. He had a right to proceed without interruption. Mr. Layard denied all responsibility with regard to the mosaics in the roof of the Houses of Parliament. He said he had to take a Vote of the House, and hand the work over to the architect to carry it out. Captain Galton was appointed to carry out the work. And what were the fruits? A most lamentable failure in the only instances in which that officer had been called on to act. This was a real question of policy—of a departure from an established principle by his right hon. Friend the First Commissioner. Until this year the Office of Works had never been without an architect. His right hon. Friend deemed himself to be above experts, and in the proposal for improving the refreshment rooms, a portion of the plan consisted in breaking the continuity of one of the corridors in order that a scullery might be erected. He begged to move the reduction of the Vote by £750, the amount of the salary of Captain Galton.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Item of £1,500, for the Salary of the Director of Works and Buildings be reduced by £750."—(Mr. Bentinck.)
, while admitting that the substitution of Captain Galton for Mr. Pennethorne in the Office of Works was a very fair question for the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Bentinck) to raise, thought that many of the topics referred to by the hon. Gentleman were quite beside that question. He quite admitted that an important change had been made, and one which ought to invite the closest scrutiny of the House; but he must correct the hon. Gentleman on one particular. He said it had been determined to do away with architects in the Office of Works; but he mistook the state of things which had prevailed in that Office for a long time. He was correct in saying that for a great many years the First Commissioner had in connection with the establishment a consulting architect; but for a long period the consulting functions of Mr. Pennethorne had passed into abeyance, though he acted as practical architect of several works carried out under the Office. The termination of Mr. Pennethorne's connection with the Office of Works as consulting architect had not been brought about by his right hon. Friend the present First Commissioner. It had been determined on long before his right hon. Friend became First Commissioner. During all the years that the consulting functions of Mr. Pennethorne had fallen into abeyance, the Office of Works had really been without the advice of experts. It was rather soon to pronounce positively on the merits of the new system, but the Government thought it was a good one. It was not one by which the Office of Works was to proceed without an expert. In every considerable work it would have the assistance of architects, and it would on all occasions have the assistance of an expert in Captain Galton as Director of Works. The question was whether the Government had done right in calling in the assistance of Captain Galton, who was acquainted with construction and with the mechanism employed in construction, but who was not a professional architect. The Government had reviewed the history of our public buildings; and, first of all, they came to the conclusion that, if the Office of Works were fortified by the assistance of a consulting architect, whose consulting functions were not placed in abeyance, conflict would constantly arise between him and the professional archi- 684 tects employed in connection with particular works. That conclusion was borne out by the fact that, in reality, Mr. Pennethorne had not acted as consulting architect for a very long time. So far from acceding to the sinister representations of the hon. Gentleman, as to the experience they had heretofore had, he would express a confident expectation that the working of the new arrangement would be found satisfactory even to the hon. Member himself. Independently of architectural taste, there were many questions on which it was desirable to have the advice of a practical man, and one who would not be ashamed to keep economy in view. In their great work, too, where they called in the assistance of special architects, it was most important to have the aid of a man who would look with the eye of an economist as well as of a constructor at the plans of those architects. Let them take their recent public works. There was the building in which they were assembled, which had cost between £,3,500,000 and £4,000,000. If they had had well established in the Board of Works a competent adviser to the First Commissioner, who could have interfered with great knowledge and authority not as an architect, but as a constructor and an adviser with reference to economy, to check and control the execution of that vast Palace, he did not hesitate to affirm that an enormous saving would in all likelihood have been effected, and effected where it was greatly needed; for he owned he thought it a great reproach to the House of Commons during the last 30 years—and he must take his own share of it, whatever that share might be—that they, as administrators of the public purse, had allowed such an unbounded expenditure upon the building in which they held their deliberations. Therefore, no did not say that at this moment they could claim for the new arrangement the assent and approval of the hon. Gentleman. The First Commissioner of Works himself had had great doubt and hesitation in regard to an opinion which was strongly entertained by the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but the measure had been adopted by the Government on its own responsibility. There was about it a fair promise of success; there was no fear that this officer, who was not an architect, but a constructor, would fall into a state of inutility; and 685 the wise course was to allow an arrangement which had only been in operation three months a reasonable time to work, say till next year. Then the Government would not discourage the hon. Member's endeavour to call the attention of the Committee to the subject; but would look with considerable confidence to its being sanctioned by the House.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
regarded the appointment of an Assistant Surveyor of Works as a starting-point of a new and vicious system against which he felt bound to protest. The new policy of the Government was to dispense with the services of eminent architects, and to entrust the architecture of our first public buildings to a mere subordinate in the Department of Works. He found his evidence in the circular advertisement which lately appeared in the public prints inviting competition for the office of assistant surveyor in the Board of Works, which stated that the candidates "must be competent to design, and to superintend the construction of buildings;" and, finally, as a remarkable qualification, they would have to be "capable of making technical reports properly composed and spelt." What, he asked, was the use of seeking out an official who was to be capable of superintending and designing buildings if he was not intended to do both? and what sort of an architect would the person be who would have to prove that he could compose those reports without committing errors in orthography? This, then, was to be the subordinate who was to be put in to prompt that Director of Works who was to be chosen because he was an engineer officer, although he might have no taste, no knowledge of the science of beauty, no knowledge of architectural symmetry and proportion, but would simply be a judge of construction and of material, and a practical builder. If, behind that engineer, behind that under-servant of the Department of Works the "assistant surveyor," there was not to be an architect of eminence, experience, and wide learning, of the class of those whom the nation had hitherto employed to construct its public buildings, what were they to say to the new system? After further referring to the list of qualifications required to be possessed by the candidate for the new office, the hon. Member said there was room for grave suspicion that 686 it would be found to be a part of the new policy of the Department of Works, when fully revealed, that not only was a consulting architect to be dispensed with, but that they should not, in future, engage the services of any independent architect of European reputation such as Wren, Inigo Jones, Barry, Scott, or Street, whom the State had heretofore delighted to employ. The hon. Member concluded by asking for distinct assurances from the Government as to their real intentions in the matter, and by declaring that he would support the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Bentinck).
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, he wished to call attention to the extraordinary position in which successive changes had placed the Office of Works. When the present Government came into Office they appointed a small but effective Committee to consider the question; and the Committee presented a Report, which was acted upon by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the then First Commissioner of Works, who appointed Mr. Fergusson as a competent architectural authority to assist the Office of Works, Mr. Pennethome still retaining his original position. Mr. Layard stated with great delight that the result would be a saving of many thousands a year, and he augured a period of success and satisfaction; but suddenly he went to Madrid. Mr. Fergusson disappeared, Mr. Pennethorne disappeared, and Captain Douglas Galton came in; and all this without further inquiry and without the issue of Papers to explain it. Of the architectural capacity of Captain Galton he knew nothing; and no answer had been given to the question of the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Bentinck—namely, What is to be the architectural advice to which the Office of Works is to have resort? He gathered that it was not to be expected from Captain Galton. No doubt it would be a happy solution of the question if the Government were to say that, the Office being now denuded of first-rate architectural advice, no structural alterations should be made in any great building without the advice and assistance of the architect most competent to give it. It would be madness to trust any structural alteration of the Tower of London, for instance, to any architect who had not made such work his special study, and if it were the intention of the Government always 687 to call in the most competent architect he should be quite content; but in the darkness which prevailed the hon. Member for Whitehaven had done good service by calling attention to the state of the matter.
§ MR. AYRTON
, having been accused of adopting an unprecedented course in seeking to make the Government responsible in cases such as had heretofore rested entirely with the First Commissioner of Works, wished to say that the position he had assumed from time to time had been based upon the statute law regulating his Office, and nothing could be more idle than for a person in Office to seek to inflate his position by assuming powers and authorities which did not belong to him. The truth was, that the Office of First Commissioner was entirely subservient to the Treasury; he was unable to undertake a single work, or to make any change in his Department, without the sanction of the Treasury; and, indeed, he had heard his Office described by a predecessor as little better than that of a superior Treasury clerk. This was not a very dignified view of the Office; but he thought it best that Members should keep within the line prescribed by the law. It had been suggested that he was engaged in dark mysteries, and to prove that he was concealing his operations, reference had been made to a printed pamphlet which explained to all the world what he was doing. In point of fact, what was being done was well known to all who would take the trouble to make inquiry; but misunderstanding would continue so long as hon. Members would undertake to criticize the proceedings of this Office without informing themselves accurately as to facts. He had already, on two occasions, explained this matter fully to the House, and yet remarks had been made at variance with his statements, and therefore he would for the third time explain the constitution of the Office. In the first instance, the office of consulting architect having degenerated almost into a sinecure, and that official being employed chiefly in works of construction, his predecessor, Mr. Layard, made an arrangement for the honourable retirement of Mr. Pennethome, who had been many years in the public service; who was not responsible for the fact that he had not been consulted; and whom there was no idea of dismissing, for he had held his office 688 with considerable credit. Instead of appointing a consulting architect, the Government created a new Office of Secretary of Works, and appointed a gentleman conversant with all questions appertaining to the discharge of his duties; but he found that the arrangement did not meet his views, and he determined to resign. And in reference to his case, again, it was very unfortunate that such a term as dismissal should be used. This happened before he accepted the Office of First Commissioner, and the retirement of this gentleman rendered it necessary to consider what should be done to make the Office of Works efficient for its purpose; and the arrangement made by the Government was that there should be in the Department an officer to be called the Director of Works, independently of him, or of a consulting architect, or of Mr. Fergusson. There was in the Office of Works, as there always had been, a body of gentlemen who were called assistant surveyors, a name calculated to mislead, because, in point of fact, they were architects, and the circular which had been quoted described their duties and qualifications. These gentlemen were always held qualified to undertake works of a general character, and they would continue to perform such duties; but the office of Director of Works was one of very great importance, and if he discharged his duty he would render very valuable service to the public. Before, however, an eminent architect was called in, there were always a number of preliminary questions connected with public works which required to be carefully considered and examined with a view to economy and efficiency; and it would be premature and attended with risk to hand over works to such architects before all preliminaries had been properly considered and dealt with. They had had experience of that in respect to the Foreign Office, which everybody complained of as being most inconvenient for the purposes of the service. It was to guard against danger of that kind that the Director of Works could be most usefully employed; and, when necessary, an architect of ability and genius would be called in for particular purposes. He ventured to say that the result would be a saving not of thousands of pounds, but of hundreds of thousands in the course of the next few years.
§ MR. COLLINS
suggested that the 689 salary ought to be reduced not to £750, but to £1,000, which was a round sum.
§ MR. AYRTON
explained that this would be no saving, as Captain Galton's pension, added to his salary, would be more than £1,500, so that the office had made a good bargain in securing his services for £1,500.
§ MR. COLLINS
said, that might be time with regard to Captain Galton; but he wanted to fix the salary for the office in future times.
§ MR. CANDLISH
said, he thought it would be better to give compensation of £500 and fix the salary at £1,000.
§ MR. MONK
said, he had heard the speech of the First Commissioner of Works with astonishment. There were eight surveyors in the office, and according to his right hon. Friend they were all architects, and yet it was proposed to call in the occasional services of a ninth architect. If so, where was the use of a Director of Works? He certainty thought the Vote ought to be reduced to £1,000.
said, that Captain Galton, in the way of mere pension, was entitled to £750 a year, irrespective of performing any duty, so that in fixing his salary at £1,500 a year the Government had not made a bad arrangement.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, that in consequence of the Report of the Committee that a person of architectural skill should be selected, Mr. Fergusson was appointed; yet when that gentleman resigned, that recommendation was reversed without any fresh investigation, and a gentleman not an architect took his place.
§ MR. COLLINS
said, he thought the argument of the Prime Minister not a sound one, for the salary was voted for the office and not for the particular officer.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, it was impossible for him not to see that the opposition to the item arose on account of the change made in reference to Mr. Barry, and not from a regard to the public interest. Now, as he held the old system to have been a very extravagant system, he would be no party to covert attacks on the reforms which the present Government had initiated.
said, that his object was not to reduce Captain Galton's salary, but to raise a discussion on the subject, although neither the Prime Minister nor the First Commissioner of 690 Works had given any reason why an architect should not be employed.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
(5.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £17,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1871, for Her Majesty's Foreign and other Secret Services.
§ MR. RYLANDS
moved to reduce the Vote by the sum of £10,000. He did not intend to go into the general question; but he had reason to believe that in the expenditure for the Foreign Office certain amounts were devoted by the officials to augment the salaries or pensions of persons formerly employed in the Foreign Office. In the Select Committee on the Diplomatic and Consular Services he had put certain questions on the subject to some of the witnesses.
§ MR. BOUVERIE
rose to Order. The hon. Member was not entitled to refer to anything which had taken place before a Select Committee which had not yet reported to the House.
said, the rule undoubtedly was that until the Report of a Committee was laid before the House it was not regular for any Member of the Committee to refer to its proceedings.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, he would only then say that as he had reason to believe that a portion of the secret service money voted by the House went to increase the salaries and pensions of persons formerly employed in the Foreign Office, he should move a reduction of the Vote in order that the expenditure might be submitted to the House. The Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs could not justify the expenditure of the money to the House, as he was entirely ignorant of the purposes to which it was applied, no one having any control over it except the Secretary for Foreign Affairs. There was another ground on which he entirely objected to the mode in which the secret service money was expended. It did not come under the examination of the Audit Department. In the opinion of the Committee on Public Accounts the Foreign Office, in declining to submit the expenditure of secret service money to the Audit Board, were guilty of a breach of the law—at all events, they did 691 not fulfil the requirements of the law. What he wanted was a voucher that the amount voted by the House had been actually expended within the year; whereas, he had every reason to believe that there were at the present moment several thousand pounds of the secret service money in the hands of the Foreign Office unexpended. He thought this question deserved the attention of the Committee, and he moved the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £10,000.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £7,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1871, for Her Majesty's Foreign and other Secret Services."—(Mr. Rylands.)
said, he wished, as this was but the fourth Vote they had been able to arrive at that evening, to lay before the Committee in a few words what he hoped would save them from an extended discussion on this subject. The subject of secret service money was a difficult and delicate one; but all he could say was it was totally impossible to dispense with it entirely; but the practice, the feeling, and the desire of the Government was to limit it, from time to time, as much as possible. That must, however, necessarily be done by a gradual process; because, where funds of this kind had been given, the mode of disposing of them fell into shapes which involved considerable expectations for the future. It was, therefore, a very gradual process by which the House of Commons must be content to walk if it sought to reduce the amount of secret service money annually voted. There were two things he was desirous to say. He did not think his hon. Friend, if initiated into the mysteries of this department of the public service, would find that the expenditure of this money was open to the imputations he had directed against it. But with regard to a public audit of secret service money, that amounted to a contradiction in terms. It would be very objectionable to institute a secret audit, and he should not bike the Audit Commissioners to perform their work in secresy. The principle on which Parliament had always proceeded was this—that if it was necessary to allow something in the nature of secret service money, the best mode of dealing with it rested on these two con- 692 ditions—first of all to confine the knowledge of it to the smallest possible number of persons, and, having thus concentrated responsibility, to trust to their honour and discretion. He did not think they could obtain a better system for the management of the thing than that. Nor had his hon. Friend, in the present state of the case, reason to be dissatisfied. Great progress had been made towards the establishment of strict economy and moderation in regard to this Vote. With the exception of six months, during which he was Secretary for the Colonies, 24 years ago, he never knew one syllable as to the administration of the secret service money. He remembered perfectly well when the sum annually voted was £38,000; then it was reduced to £32,000. It remained at £32,000 for a considerable number of years. Within the last few years it had gradually been brought down. The last sum asked for was £27,000, and this year it was down to £25,000. Until this year the Foreign Office had been entitled to retain the unexpended balance of secret service money; but in future the balance at the close of the year would be restored to the Treasury. The immediate effect of that concession, however, must necessarily be to keep up the sum voted, as there must be a small margin beyond what would be necessary to meet immediate demands. He hoped the statement he had made would save the time of the Committee.
§ MR. DILLWYN
observed, that a voucher from the hands of the Foreign Secretary that the sum voted by the House had been expended would be quite sufficient for all practical purposes.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next;
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.