HC Deb 28 July 1871 vol 208 cc436-49

SUPPLY—considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

(3.) £4,648, to complete the sum for the National Gallery.

(4.) £1,500, to complete the sum for the National Portrait Gallery.


said, that he thought that the Trustees of the National Portrait Gallery were to be congratulated on the success of the experiment of removing the collection from Great George Street to South Kensington, especially as doubts had been entertained on the subject. It appeared from the Annual Report of the Trustees lately presented to Parliament, that whereas the average number of visitors in the 11 years from the formation of the Gallery in 1859, to its removal from Great George Street at the end of 1869, had been 16,500, the number had increased to nearly 60,000 in the nine months of 1870, during which it had been open at South Kensington, although it was only open to the public gratuitously three days a week. This only afforded another illustration of what he had often previously noticed—namely, that the mere fact of the removal of Institutions from very central situations to places less centrally located, but where proper space for their expansion was provided, so far from being injurious to them, was positively beneficial.

Vote agreed to.

(5.) £9,450, to complete the sum for certain Learned Societies in Great Britain.

(6.) £7,242, to complete the sum for the University of London.

(7.) £11,147, to complete the sum for the Endowed Schools Commission.

(8.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £14,380, 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 1872, for Grants to Scottish Universities.


said, he wished to ask why the sum proposed to be voted for the salary of the Principal of Edinburgh University had been increased by £300. He should, move to reduce the Vote by that sum.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £14,080, 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 1872, for Grants to Scottish Universities."—(Mr. Monk.)


said, that formerly it was the practice for the Principal of the University to be also a Professor, and to receive the emoluments of his professorship in addition to the salary of Principal. The present holder of the office was not in that position, however, and as it was thought the £548 paid as the salary of Principal was not in itself sufficient to enable him adequately to perform the duties of this important office, it was proposed to increase the grant to £848.


said, in explanation of the increase of the Vote, perhaps the Committee would permit him to state that the three Universities of Aberdeen, St. Andrew's, and Glasgow, had, though by no means a large, yet a certain amount of property, with which they could increase the salaries of their Principal and of their Professors. The most modern University—that of Edinburgh—had in itself no property, but was established by James VI., with a promise to give to the University adequate endowment. That promise was never fulfilled, and the University had to depend upon the liberality of Parliament for the support of its Principal and Professors. The last Principal was the celebrated Sir David Brewster, who was unable to live in Edinburgh in consequence of the lowness of the salary of £500. Sir David Baxter, on a recent occasion, purchased and gave to the University a house for the Principal, in the hope of enabling him to live in Edinburgh; but with the expense of the city it was found impossible to obtain an eminent man to fill the post without further aid. The small addition which had been made to the salary enabled the University to have a resident Principal, and he (Dr. Lyon Playfair) believed, it would be found to be an exceedingly worthy object.


said, he deemed the explanation satisfactory, and would withdraw his Amendment.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

(9.) £1,600, to complete the sum for the Board of Manufactures, &c. in Scotland.


said, he wished to ask Her Majesty's Government whether there was any prospect of the annual demand of Scotland for the sum now proposed to be voted being put an end to? He observed that it had been paid ever since the Union, or for nearly 200 years, and the Board of Manufactures—although doubtless a very useful body at one time—had altogether ceased to exist for the purpose for which it was originally instituted, but was now practically continued only for the promotion of the Fine Arts.


said, the money was granted in pursuance of a compact entered into at the date of the Union of Scotland with England, and had been employed for years in the promotion of art, education, and kindred subjects.


said, he thought an appropriation such as the hon. Member described was a misappropriation, and that the Vote ought not to appear on the Estimates.


said, the Vote was a compact made at the time of the Union, and they had no more right to take away the money than they had to take away the property of the Duke of Bedford.


said, as he had the honour to be a Commissioner of the Board, he wished to give a short explanation of the manner in which the money was spent. It was spent in two ways, and in the most economical manner—in the first place, for the promotion of manufactures by an admirable School of Art, which exercised a great influence upon Scottish art and Scottish manufactures; and, secondly, in the support of a National Gallery in the most economical way in which a National Gallery could be supported; and he thought if his hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland (Mr. Candlish) would go down to Edinburgh, he would be exceedingly pleased to see the productive way in which that small Vote was spent.

Vote agreed to.

(10.) £545, to complete the sum for the Office of Commissioners of Education in Ireland.

(11.) £1,790, to complete the sum for National Gallery, Ireland.

(12.) £1,284, to complete the sum for the Royal Irish Academy.

(13.) £2,803, to complete the sum for Queen's University, Ireland.

(14.) £3,213, to complete the sum for Queen's Colleges, Ireland.

(15.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £170,876, 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 1872, for the Expenses of Her Majesty's Embassies and Missions Abroad.


said, he regretted that, in consequence of the late period of the Session at which, the Estimates were brought forward, it was impossible properly to discuss them, and he felt himself precluded from entering, as fully as he had intended, into the particulars of the present Vote. He wished, however, to call the attention of the Committee to the fact that the cost of the Diplomatic Service in 1851 amounted only to £159,285, whilst the present Vote was £215,876. The expenditure had, in fact, gone on increasing every year until two years ago, when he called attention to the subject, since which time the expenditure had been diminished by nearly £20,000. He had now to ask the Committee to reduce the Vote by a further sum of £10,000, and he believed that a much larger saving might be secured without detriment to the public service, if proper measures were taken for that purpose. He submitted that a considerable economy might be effected by replacing Ambassadors at Foreign Courts by Ministers Extraordinary. This change was recommended by the Official Salaries Committee of 1850, which was a Committee of great authority, presided over by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Lancashire (Colonel Wilson-Patten), and it was clear from the evidence of Lord Derby before the Diplomatic Committee last year that he attached no great importance to the rank of Ambassador. It was proved, in evidence before that Committee, that the Ambassadorial rank occasioned increased expenditure, and rendered higher salaries necessary; whilst the only alleged advantage was the right of audience of the Sovereign—a right of questionable utility in constitutional Governments, where it must always be desirable that the representatives of this country should communicate with foreign Rulers through their responsible Ministers. He (Mr. Rylands) would suggest, therefore, that it would be advisable to open negotiations with foreign Powers, with a view to see whether the rank of Ambassador might not be reduced to that of Minister Extraordinary. The example of France had been urged as a reason for our keeping up a costly system of representation, and no doubt under the Empire very high salaries were paid; but it must be remembered that the policy of the Emperor was to secure a personal representation, and to attach to his own interests those who were nominally called the Ministers of France. The extravagant system maintained by the Emperor for personal objects would probably not be continued under the new system of Government. Another opportunity for considerable reductions was furnished by the establishment of the German Empire. There was now no reason why the small German Missions should be continued. At present, though, the Mission at Würtemberg had been reduced, a Chargé d'Affaires having been appointed in place of the Minister Extraordinary, there was a large and costly establishment kept up in Bavaria, where we had a Minister Plenipotentiary with a salary of £3,600 a-year, and an allowance of £400 a-year for house rent, and a Secretary of Legation with, a salary of £500 a-year. We had also Secretaries of Legation and Chargés d'Affaires at Coburg and Darmstadt. All these offices might be altogether abolished, for there was no advantage in retaining expensive establishments at those minor Courts. It was urged that such officers were very useful in collecting information, they being the eyes and ears of the Foreign Office; but Lord Malmesbury, who so spoke of them when examined before the Select Committee last year, admitted that their information had not been of much advantage to this country; and certainly, with all our network of diplomacy spread over Europe, we got no warning beforehand of the outbreak of the recent war, because that war broke out at a moment when the Permanent Under Secretary at the Foreign Office informed Lord Granville that perfect calm prevailed all over Europe. In reference to the small Missions in Germany, putting their uselessness out of the question, he thought it was exceedingly undesirable to retain them, not only on the ground of economy, but on the ground of policy, as their maintenance was only an encouragement to the smaller Courts to interfere with the unity of the German Empire. With regard to obtaining information, he very much questioned whether our representatives, even at the larger Courts, were of much value in enabling the Government to forecast future events. He had been struck with a fact stated in The Fortnightly Review in an able and well-informed article upon Germany, in which the writer alluded to the expectations prevalent in Europe in 1858 of an impending war between France and Austria. It was remarked in this article that the military preparations of France made the intention on the part of the French Emperor of attacking Austria known to all the world, with a single exception — and that exception was Lord Cowley, the British Ambassador at Paris. This statement was supported by the Foreign Despatches since laid before Parliament, and which proved that up to the very last moment the British Government fancied that by the measures it was taking it could prevent the outbreak of a war which was, in fact, absolutely determined upon. Turning to another country, what ground or object was there for maintaining a costly establishment in Greece? The recent deplorable circumstance which had occurred there had shown that our representative at Athens had been of little or no use, whilst the members of the Legation appeared to have been ignorant of facts affecting the safety of British subjects which were well known elsewhere. Every object sought for by the Mission at Athens could be secured by the appointment of a Chargé d'Affaires in place of a Minister. A Chargé d'Affaires would also be amply sufficient for the protection of British interests in Switzerland, a country whose Republican simplicity did not require the appointment of expensive representatives. The establishments in South America might also be reduced, as there was not sufficient justification for the costly Missions maintained in the Brazils and the Argentine Republic; and not only could £10,000 a-year be saved easily by the reductions he had suggested, but a much larger economy might be effected if Government would deal with the Diplomatic Service generally in a decided manner. There was a considerable sum included in the Estimates for miscellaneous expenditure, and he wished to direct the attention of the Under Secretary to the fact, that in the Estimates of former years the various sub-heads of expenditure, some of which were very heavy, were included in a statement showing the particulars of the expenditure incurred by each Mission. The absence of that information in the present Estimates prevented the items being sufficiently checked, and he thought the particulars should be given in future years. With regard to military attachés, the only salary he could find mentioned was that of the attaché at Paris, with respect to whom the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had admitted the additional payment of £500 per annum from the Secret Service money—a proceeding which was most objectionable. General Claremont, who had received the salary of £600 a-year as attaché at Paris, and £500 a-year from Secret Service money, in addition to his full pay as a military officer, spent a great portion of his time in England, and he (Mr. Rylands) had reason to believe that his despatches to the Government contained very little information of value. He challenged the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to say that General Claremont had made any communications to the Government with reference to the defective organization of the French Army that prepared them for its collapse in the recent war. He was unable to find in the Estimates any mention of the salary for the military attaché at St. Petersburg, and this he regretted, because he wished to ask whether any Secret Service money was granted in addition to the salary of £600 per annum? The post had recently been vacant, and the Committee ought to know whether an allowance of Secret Service money, if such was paid, was mentioned to those senior officers who had declined the appointment. The Permanent Under Secretary had the control of the Secret Service Fund, and the noble Lord therefore probably did not know whether Captain Wellesley would receive anything from this service in addition to his salary. But however that might be, it was most objectionable to appoint a subaltern in the Army, an officer without experience, who no doubt was a gentleman of high connections and accustomed to fashionable society, but who was not required to go to St. Petersburg to spend money in the extravagancies of a gay life, but to get information of value to this country. In his opinion, instead of military attachés, it would be far better and more economical to send occasional military Commissioners to foreign States to obtain the information that was necessary. But if we were to have a permanent representative abroad to take note of military affairs, he ought to be a man of great ability and experience, whose observations and opinions would really guide the decisions of the Government at home. Had the amount of the salary to be paid to Captain Wellesley been upon the Estimates, he should certainly have divided the Committee against it. He would urge even now the Government to retrace a step which had caused a great amount of public dissatisfaction. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving to reduce the Vote by £10,000.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £160,876, 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 1872, for the Expenses of Her Majesty's Embassies and Missions Abroad."—(Mr. Rylands.)


said, as a Member of the Diplomatic Committee, he was rather astonished to find his hon. Friend (Mr. Rylands) making a Motion which was against the tenour of the evidence taken by that Committee. The abolition of our Missions to Switzerland, Greece, and the smaller German States was not desirable, and if they went our Missions to Portugal, Spain, and Belgium might as well follow. The gist of the speech pointed to the abolition of the small German Missions, but it was founded rather on abstract reasoning than on actual knowledge of what had occurred in Germany. It was not true that the whole political life of Germany was now concentrated at Berlin. The South German States still preserved their political autonomy, and Prince Bismarck himself, in a recent speech, had pointed out that there was no cessation of autonomic action on the part of the smaller States. To part with "the eyes and ears of our Foreign Office" there would, for this reason, be exceedingly impolitic, and no other country had suppressed its Missions in South Germany. At the same time, he thought that certain reductions might be made in those Missions, and he had placed on the Paper a Notice for moving those reductions. One anomaly was quite indefensible. Our Mission in Bavaria was a first-class Mission, costing £4,900 a-year, both the staff and the cost being greater than that of our Missions in Greece, Belgium, Sweden, or Denmark. It was evident that such an arrangement was not required. He proposed, therefore, to reduce that Mission, which was originally a second-class Mission, and by that means to effect a saving of about £1,900. The next proposal which he had to make had reference to Würtemberg. He believed it was desirable to have a substantial Mission there. Events had occurred of late on which a great many future contingencies were likely to turn, such as the annexation of Alsace, and from no point could Alsace and its assimilation with Germany be, in his opinion, better watched than from Stuttgardt. The footing upon which the Mission at Würtemberg had been kept up of late he at the same time thought exceeded what was required. He should therefore suggest the expediency of reviving a post which had lately been very much in abeyance—that of Minister Resident. It was a rank which was attended with a smaller salary, and which had been filled by such men as Sir Henry Seymour in Tuscany, while up to 1867 we had a Minister Resident at the Hanse Towns. By reducing the Mission at Würtemberg from a Minister Plenipotentiary with £3,200 a-year we should effect a saving of the difference between that sum and £2,000 a-year, which would be necessary for the salary of a Minister Resident. There was another post in Germany for which he believed no one could say a word, and that was the post of Charge d'Affaires at Coburg. There was, he thought, no necessity why that should be kept up. The reductions which he would recommend would, in short, result in a saving of £3,800 a-year. It would be said that the pensions of a first-class Minister at Munich and of the Chargé d'Affaires at Coburg would amount to £2,000 a-year. There would still, however, be a saving on the Estimates of £1,800 a-year. Among the most valuable of the recommendations in the Report of the Diplomatic Committee was one with reference to the treatment of the juniors, who really had a great grievance to complain of. By means of the savings which he recommended we should not only be able to have the business of the country adequately performed, but to meet the necessary pensions, as well as to give those bonuses which would, he believed, afford an invaluable stimulus to the younger members of the service. He should not be able to follow his hon. Friend (Mr. Rylands) into the lobby on this question.


said, he objected to the Motion of the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands) on account of its vagueness. The hon. Member proposed to reduce the Vote by £10,000, leaving to the Government the task of apportioning the reduction. The suggestions of the hon. Member who had just sat down were at least definite. There was, he might add, no doubt that the Diplomatic Service of England had hitherto been represented ably, but the services of the ablest men could not in future, in his opinion, be secured if the prizes of the profession were cut down; and it would be a serious injury to the country if Ambassadors were placed in the position of mere Chargés d'Affaires, who would not have access to the Sovereign to whose dominions they were accredited. As to the office of military attaché, it was not one which he particularly loved, nor did he think those who of late years had occupied that post had been very useful, for, from all he had heard, the position of a military attaché in Paris during the late war was anything but creditable to the country. It was very inconvenient to single out for attack the late appointment of Captain Wellesley to St. Petersburg. Here was an occasion on which the principle of selection had for the first time been applied, and the very person who called most loudly for its introduction was one of the first to question the manner in which it had been exercised. If every time a selection was made the Government were called to account for it in that House, it would be quite impossible for the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the War Office to carry out the principle which he was so anxious to establish. He must enter his protest against the course pursued in this matter by the hon. Member for Warrington, and should feel it his duty to vote against the hon. Member's Amendment.


said, the noble Lord's (Viscount Bury's) estimate of the military attaché at Paris was very different from that which all who had to do with him entertained. General Claremont had rendered the most valuable service in that city during the siege. It was true he did not remain till the end; but he had acted entirely in what he considered the interest of the country. He had rendered the most distinguished military services in the Crimea and other quarters, and had never hesitated to go to the front to obtain information. He had by his conduct won the esteem of all the officers of the French Army. The language used towards him in that House was most injurious to the gallant General, and discreditable to those who used it. The late Lord Clarendon had a very high opinion of General Claremont, and he (Mr. Leveson Gower) had seen letters from Lord Lyons which showed that he, too, very highly appreciated General Claremont's services. When the late war broke out General Claremont was most anxious to join the French Army, but was prevented by a positive refusal from the French Government. He was not going to defend the entire course pursued by General Claremont in leaving Paris; but as that general was now about to publish a statement in explanation of what he had done, it would not be right to condemn him beforehand. He believed that if General Claremont thought his remaining in Paris would have been conducive to the public good, nothing would have induced him to leave that city.


said, he thought the course taken by the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands) unfortunate, because there was no good in moving a general reduction of the Vote without specifying the items on which the reductions could be made. On this ground he could not vote for the Amendment. It was desirable, however, that Her Majesty's Government should consider whether it would not be well to abolish military and naval attachés for the future. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had shown that our military attaché at Paris was not allowed to join the French Army in the field, and therefore could not render the services which might be expected from him.


said, he hoped the Committee would agree to the Motion. He wished to call especial attention to the item for postage, which was more than the Post Office revenue of some small States.


said, with regard to the objection of the hon. Member for Warrington to the rank of Ambassador, he thought neither the Committee nor the country would wish to see the prestige of England in any way diminished by reducing the British representatives abroad to an inferior rank, especially when out of our five Ambassadors we had men so distinguished in the public service as Sir Henry Elliot, Lord Lyons, and Sir Andrew Buchanan. The Committee that had inquired into this subject stated in their Report that it appeared that many economies, reforms, and improvements in the administration of the Diplomatic Service had from time to time been introduced by successive chiefs of the Foreign Office. The hon. Gentleman had attacked, as might be expected, the minor German Missions. It was proposed to reduce the Würtemberg Mission, as he (Viscount Enfield) stated the other evening. In the case of Dresden, in consequence of the Treaty in 1866 signed between Prussia and Saxony, in which Saxony surrendered to Prussia the direction of international affairs, our Government withdrew the Mission from Dresden. A saving of £8,000 had also been effected by the abolition of the Mission at Frankfort. But in 1867 it was deemed expedient, in consequence of the considerable number of British residents at Dresden, that there should be a Chargé d'Affaires there, and his salary was fixed at £750 a-year. As to Darmstadt, Russia, Austria, and Prussia had all diplomatic representatives there. The salary of our representative at Coburg was £650 per annum, but Mr. Barnard, the gentleman in question, received £250 out of that from having been 10 years a Secretary of Legation, so that the real salary of the post at Coburg was only £400 a-year. With regard to the minor German States, he need not remind the Committee that, although there had been great changes during the last few years in the consolidation of the German Empire, 21 votes in the Federal Council were distributed among the minor Principalities. To abolish the influence of England in these minor German States would be at least premature. The Committee on which he had the honour to serve with the hon. Member for Warrington expressly alluded to the possibility that our representation in the minor German States might hereafter be gradually reduced; and his noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs was not likely to neglect the recommendation of the Committee that he should take an early opportunity of considering whether any, and, if any, which of those Missions should be abolished. With regard to the other States to which the hon. Member referred, he felt sure the Committee would be very sorry if our representatives were taken away from such countries as Switzerland, Brazil, and South America. The hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren), as well as the hon. Member for Warrington, had alluded to the expenditure for journeys in the public service, and for telegrams, printing, stationery, postage, &c. The Estimates showed a reduction in three or four of these items. With regard to our military attachés, the hon. Members (Mr. Rylands and Viscount Bury) were a little hard upon them. The hon. Member for Warrington said he thought our military attaché in France ought to have foretold the collapse of the French Army. He (Viscount Enfield) thought no man could have taken upon himself to make any such prediction. He was quite sure that a distinguished soldier who had seen service would have been the last man to make that prediction. From his own knowledge he could assure the hon. Gentleman that during the last six months our military attachés had, in the shape of confidential Reports, given the Government most valuable information as to foreign Armies. They were generally men of great service and experience. Allusion had been made to the case of Captain Wellesley, and exception had been taken to the expression he (Viscount Enfield) used on a former occasion, that eight officers of different ranks and branches of the service had been sounded as to whether they would take the appointment. Those officers' names were given to him confidentially, and if he were at liberty to mention them, it would be seen that every exertion had been made to make a good appointment. Those officers, however, declined on various grounds; two of them were in the Artillery, one was an Engineer, three had served in the Line, and two were Guardsmen, and it was not until they had refused the appointment that the post was offered to Captain Wellesley. If the hon. Member wished to raise the question of this appointment he might do so by moving a reduction of the Army Estimates. He believed he had now gone through the various points which had been raised. Before sitting down he desired to confirm all that had been said by his hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Leveson Gower), in regard to General Claremont. He regretted that he had not been in his place the other night when the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel) had stated that when affairs in Paris became precarious General Claremont had levanted. General Claremont was an officer who had served his country faithfully, ably, and gallantly, and he thanked the hon. Member for Bodmin for having so generously defended the character of the gallant gentleman from aspersions which had been cast upon it in, as he (Viscount Enfield) hoped and believed, a moment of inadvertence by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth.

Question put.

The Committee divided: — Ayes 20; Noes 68: Majority 48.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

The Clerk at the Table informed the House, That Mr. Speaker was unable to resume the Chair during the present sitting of the House.

Whereupon Mr. Dodson, the Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, took the Chair as Deputy Speaker, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next;

Committee to sit again upon Monday next.