HC Deb 29 July 1873 vol 217 cc1245-8

Order for Committee read.


complained hat the form in which this Bill had been drawn was different to that in which other Bills of the same kind had been prepared, and he said he was the more anxious about this, because it was partly in consequence of the form in which previous Telegraph Bills had been presented to the House that there had been such confusion in the accounts of the Post Office. He did not see any reason why the Government should depart from the established mode of proceeding, which required that money for those purposes should be paid into the Consolidated Fund, subject to the check of the Exchequer audit. He doubted whether the right hon. Gentleman had considerred the memorandum which the Auditor General had submitted to the Committee. The precedent of the Military Forces Localization Bill of last Session had been referred to as a precedent, but he saw no reason why, if the Secretary of State for War had a mind to commit the same irregularities as had been committed in the Post Office, it would not be possible for him to do so under the provisions of that Act.


said, the Government had considered this matter very carefully, and, after taking advice, had devised this scheme of having the money paid over to the Paymaster General. He was not strongly of opinion that that was the best course to adopt; but he did not think the proposal of the hon. Member for North Hants would meet the difficulty.


concurred in the remarks of the hon. Member opposite, and hoped the right hon. Gentleman would adopt the ordinary practice of having the money paid in to the Consolidated Fund, in connection with which there was always an officer to see that the money issued was applied to the purposes for which it was appropriated, and no loophole was left for such proceedings as those which the House had been engaged in discussing that afternoon.


said, that from a remarkable Return it appeared that £20,406 was due and owing as part of payments to railway companies, and also an item of £87,200 as part of a larger sum of £1,250,000. He should like to hear some explanation of these matters.


asked for an explanation of the item of £230,000 for commutation of pensions.


said, that the railway claims were omitted from this Bill, and would form the subject of another measure. It would not be right to include them here, because the Government did not know the amount, and it would not be advisable to guess, because then they might prejudice the case when it came before the arbitrator. The commutation of pensions, amounting to £230,000, related to the persons formerly employed in the different telegraph offices, who had received pensions and were displaced by the Government taking charge of the telegraphs.


said, that as there had been laxity on the part of the Treasury in recent transactions, the House would like to be informed what shape the regulations would assume.

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 (Mode of issuing moneys raised).

In reply to Mr. DENISON,


stated that up to the end of September extensions would be paid for by loans, and after that time out of revenue.


moved to omit the words "Paymaster General," in order to raise the question as to whether certain moneys should be paid into the hands of the Paymaster General or to the Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt. In all Acts of this kind for raising funds it was provided that all moneys should go into the Consolidated Fund, to be subject to the general order of the Treasury, and he did not think that this principle should be departed from in the present instance.


approved, under all the circumstances, of the introduction of the Paymaster General. All cheques on this loan should be drawn in favour of those who were to receive the money, and not in favour of the Postmaster General.


said, it was true that these Acts all went upon the principle to which the right hon. Gentleman referred; but the departure from that principle in the present instance had reference only to a small sum. He thought it better that it should be taken out of the hands of the Commissioners of the National Debt and placed in the hands of the Paymaster General.


said, he would not press his proposal to a division; but he must enter his protest against these departures from the constitutional practice.


supported the view taken of the matter by the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause agreed to.

In reply to Mr. GOLDSMID,


stated that a great many of the persons employed by the Telegraph companies were now employed by the Post Office, but great economy of labour had been effected.

Remaining clause agreed to.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered To-morrow.