HC Deb 26 May 1871 vol 206 cc1367-70

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [26th May], "That the Resolution which was then reported from the Committee of Supply be now read a second time."

Question again proposed.

Debate resumed.


said, he desired to ask the Speaker's opinion on a point of Order. Last night a second Vote on Account of some £843,000 for the Civil Service was taken at a late hour; and that Vote included 150 different items, embraced in seven different classes, which were all voted en bloc. He wished, therefore, to know whether it was competent for any hon. Member then to take each of those 150 items and seven classes separately, and to discuss them seriatim?


said, that the Vote on Account was one Vote, and the right hon. Member might make any observations he thought fit which bore upon it, and which was relevant to the subject matter.


said, he wished to draw attention to the fact that it was the second sum voted on account of those Estimates for the current financial year, and that it comprised the very large number of distinct items and classes which he had named. It was most objectionable that they should be asked for Votes on Account without an opportunity of discussing the items in the several classes of Estimates. The Civil Service Estimates amounted to £10,725,544, which was an increase of £735,000 upon those of last year, and of that enormous increase some explanation ought to be offered on one of the two occasions when Votes were asked on account. Public expenditure was increasing, and it seemed as if Parliament were ceasing to take an interest in the matter. The Charity Commissioners' account was one which really called for attention. In 1853 three persons were named in the Bill to receive salaries, and Lord John Russell stated that after a time the services of all three would not be required; but now an enormous staff of clerks was employed, and the Commission cost £2,000 a-year more than it did some years ago. Then again, with regard to the diplomatic service, he had understood that the salaries of the military and naval attachés were to be included in the Army Estimates. [Mr. BAXTER: Next year.] He should like to know why a Return showed that the salaries of those attachés were less than they actually received. For instance, the salary of the military attaché at Paris was put down at £500; but he received a large amount from the War Office, and it was well known that, on the whole, he cost £1,400 or £1,500 a-year. He had been told, in reply to a question, that part of the sum came out of the Secret Service Vote; and, surely, it was improper to apply that Vote in augmenting the salary of a diplomatic servant. He should also be glad to know why diplomatic salaries were continued for such places as Darmstadt, Coburg, Dresden, and Wurtemberg, for all those States were now absorbed by Prussia, and it was throwing away public money to continue appointing diplomatic servants to them? He would have gone into other matters but for the late hour of the evening. He was glad, however, to understand that, in future, Government would abstain from asking for further Votes on Account.


wished to ask, with special reference to the Wellington Monument, whether the Government would undertake not to commence any new works out of the Vote on Account?


said, he must complain of the increase of the educational grants to England and to Ireland as compared with Scotland, while Scotland paid more in national taxation than did Ireland; so that Scotland was rated for the benefit of England and Ireland; and he complained of the neglect of legislation for Scotland.


said, the increase of the English Education Vote was due to the passing of the Act; and there would be a corresponding increase for Scotland when Parliament had time to deal with Scotch education, which it had not been able to find yet. [Mr. M'LAREN: That is what I complain of.] He (Mr. Baxter) regretted that himself as much as any Scotch Member could. As he had already stated in reply to the hon. Member for Sunderland, no new works would be commenced out of money voted on account, until Parliament had had an opportunity of expressing an opinion on the proposals of the Government. The answer he had given on a former occasion to the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel) with respect to the salaries of military and naval attachés would affect the Estimates of next year. It was rather inconvenient to raise discussions upon points of detail connected with the Civil Service Estimates when Votes were taken on account, for the reason that the Government, in the early part of the Session, were pressed by the House not only to bring in Bills, but to have them read a second time, when it would have been to the interest of the Government to proceed with the Army, Navy, and Civil Service Estimates at the commencement of the Session; but the House prevented that from being done.


said, the work of the Charity Commissioners had very largely increased, and in his opinion they had rendered very great public service. He should be very sorry to do anything to discourage the work of the Charity Commissioners; but, at the same time, he admitted that it was a question for the consideration of Parliament whether they should not be remunerated from the trusts funds. There was no foundation for the assertion that the Bill which had been introduced with reference to those Commissioners would largely increase their salaries.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolution agreed to.