HC Deb 12 May 1873 vol 215 cc1791-819

SUPPLY—considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £2,279, 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 1874, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Lord Privy Seal.


in opposing the Vote, said, he considered it was open to question upon grounds both of Imperial and financial policy. A person holding the high position of a Cabinet Minister ought to have a definite and responsible position, and to be at the head of a Department of State; and, unless he did hold such a position, he could not be considered to be as strictly responsible as he ought to be, either to the country or to Parliament, for the due discharge of his duties. No doubt, Ministers so situated had important duties; but they were responsible only to their Colleagues, for Parliament did not know what their duties were. There was no doubt, likewise, that Cabinet Ministers were underpaid, and that the Prime Minister ought, in the interests of the country, to have a much higher salary. They were, therefore, entitled to all the assistance they required, but this office was admittedly in itself almost a sinecure, and yet the Lord Privy Seal had a large staff to assist him in doing nothing. It had been suggested to him (Mr. Dillwyn) that he would obtain more support if he proposed striking off the subordinates; but, objecting to the whole Vote, he disliked attacking subordinates when the chiefs might be dealt with; and one reason why the economies effected by the Government had not gained due favour with the country was, that they had too much attacked subordinates, and left officials in higher positions untouched. Army colonels, for example, had been left while the effective service had been lowered, and dockyard labourers had been dismissed, while the same energetic reform had not been applied to the higher officials. He would move that the Vote be disallowed.


said, he was afraid he could impart no novelty to the discharge of a task which he had performed on several occasions before, when the same Motion had come before the House for its acceptance. He did not, and would not contend that the maintenance of this office involved the essence of the British Constitution, and he could conceive some arrangement hereafter of Ministerial duties which would allow it to be dispensed with. The House had from time to time shown considerable inclination to re-arrange Ministerial Offices, but a matured plan had never been arrived at. He did not attach exaggerated importance to the maintenance of Cabinet Offices in their precise form, but he joined issue with his hon. Friend the Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) on the practical question involved. As a departmental office, he did not substantially question his hon. Friend's description of it as nearly a sinecure; there were, indeed, formal duties, but not duties in themselves constituting a sufficient reason for maintaining the office. He could not, however, agree with his hon. Friend that because the Lord Privy Seal had not departmental duties, he was not a re- sponsible officer. It was quite right that where important departmental duties were performed, heads of Departments should be responsible; but, after all, the greatest responsibility of every Minister in the Cabinet was his responsibility, not for mere acts in his Department, but for the acts and policy of the Government at large, acts for which the Lord Privy Seal was as responsible as any of his Colleagues, the House having exactly the same kind of hold upon him. There was a certain amount of objection to the practice, resorted to but rarely and only on special grounds—that of having a Minister in the Cabinet without a salary. It might, perhaps, be held that there was then a want of something substantial to mark the responsibility; but this objection did not apply to the Lord Privy Seal. His hon. Friend overlooked the vital point—namely, that it was undesirable for the departmental duties of a Government to be equally divided among its Members, so that every one should have a full allowance. That was not the case, and it was of great importance to have on the Cabinet a certain proportion of its Members with comparatively light departmental duties—for they brought a more free and disengaged mind to questions which, in an Empire like this, incessantly demanded the collective attention of the Cabinet, and they were also useful with regard to the incidental and unforeseen public duties continually arising. In addition to the duties performed in this House and in the Cabinet, many investigations had to be undertaken by certain Members of the Cabinet on the part of the rest, for which purpose it was well to have some Members comparatively free. His hon. Friend had fairly admitted that the Cabinet, on the whole, were underpaid rather than overpaid, and that were a demand made for additional assistance he would be disposed to entertain it favourably. He therefore quite understood that his hon. Friend raised the objection as one of principle; but he believed the prevailing conviction of the House was, that it was expedient, not, possibly, to maintain the present arrangements for ever in their present form, but to maintain the present arrangement of the responsibilities and burdens of the Government, because it was one which conduced to the efficient discharge of their duties.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 229; Noes 59: Majority 170.

(2.) £33,685, to complete the sum for Government Prisons, &c., Ireland.

(3.) £63,463, to complete the sum for County and Borough Gaols, Ireland.

(4.) £4,409, to complete the sum for the Dundrum Criminal Lunatic Asylum,

(5.) £1,960, to complete the sum for the Four Courts of Marshalsea, Dublin.

(6.) £47,109, to complete the sum for Legal Expenses, Ireland.

(7.) £85,061, to complete the sum for the British Museum.


in moving the Vote, called the attention of the Committee to the numerous additions which had been made to the Museum since last year, and he pointed out that although there was apparently a great reduction in the amount, yet that reduction, as compared with the Estimate of last year, was due to the fact that a smaller sum was required for what were known as special purposes. The collection of Roman coins had been largely added to by a part of those special grants; the collection was now nearly complete, and he believed it was the finest in the world. The excavations at Ephesus were still being continued, and fresh excavations had been commenced in Assyria, the cost of obtaining which had been contributed to by the liberality of a private gentleman, the proprietor of The Daily Telegraph. He had also the satisfaction of communicating to the House that the Trustees had lately, with the sanction of the Treasury, purchased one of the finest collections of Works of Art ever brought into this country. Amongst them he might mention a bust of Juno, in a nearly perfect state, a bronzed head of Venus, supposed to belong to the time of Scopas, and an Etruscan sarcophagus of terra cotta. He thought that the thanks of the country ought to be given to the Treasury for their liberality in sanctioning the purchase of that unique collection.


said, there was an impression abroad that, from the crowded state of the British Museum, there was no satisfactory accommodation for the Natural History Collections, so as to ensure their safe preservation pending the erection of the new buildings at South Kensington.


suggested that the Museum would confer a great advantage on country museums by sending interesting objects to them which were not of sufficient importance to justify their being placed in the National Collection.


said, that with respect to the accommodation for the Natural History Collection, they were taking an increased Vote that year for buildings in South Kensington, in which there would be ample accommodation afforded for the Natural History Collection. With respect to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella), the Trustees had again and again considered the important question as to how far any duplicate works either of literature or art might be sent to other collections. At present the Trustees had no such power, and it ought only to be conferred upon them, in his opinion, with the greatest care; for many things, especially books which appeared to be duplicates, were in fact new editions, and in the interests of literature and science it was of the highest importance that distinct editions should be preserved.

Vote agreed to.

(8.) £5,045, to complete the sum for the National Gallery.

(9.) £1,500, to complete the sum for the National Portrait Gallery.

(10.) £10,450, to complete the sum for the Learned Societies.


called attention to the sum of £10,000 annually given to the Committee of the Royal Society for the purposes of the English Meteorological Department. In Scotland they had a Meteorological Society, but it was entirely supported by voluntary contributions, and received no aid or money from the Government. It was a most important society, having stations in 50 different parts of Scotland, and it would be well if some arrangement could be made whereby a portion of that £10,000 could be given to it.


said, he was very glad to second the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren) that the attention of the Government should be drawn to the circumstances of this large sum—not too large for the purpose—which was given to the Royal Society for the promotion of Meteorology. He knew from personal observation that the money was well administered, but he thought the Royal Society was making a mistake in not availing themselves of the co-operation of the Scotch Society, which had observers in the Hebrides and other far-off places in Scotland, and who could give valuable aid to the English Society. He therefore hoped the Secretary to the Treasury would take means to impress upon the Royal Society the desirableness of obtaining the cooperation of the Scotch Meteorological Society. The object of that Society was an extremely useful one; but it was not one to inspire great enthusiasm, and the funds of private subscriptions were not obtained very readily.


also supported the appeal of his Colleague the hon. Member for Edinburgh for assistance.


said, the Government were extremely adverse to multiply Votes of this kind. The sum granted to the Royal Society was a large one, and he had no doubt it was well spent; and the Government were very desirous that the English Society should arrange some mode of procedure by which the Scotch Society could have some assistance out of the Vote, without its being necessary for the Government to move any separate Vote for Scotland.


said, Scotland did not want an additional grant; she was satisfied with what the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Treasury had said—that the Government were desirous they should get something out of the £10,000.

Vote agreed to.

(11.) £8,081, to complete the sum for the London University.

(12.) £7,595, to complete the sum for the Endowed Schools Commission.


expressed a hope that the Vote would not again appear on the Estimates, because, in his opinion, the expenses of the Commission should be defrayed out of the income of the schools benefited by it, in the same manner as those of the Ecclesiastical Commission were paid out of the estates which it managed.


said, that as the Commission was to expire in the course of the present year, he scarcely saw the necessity for including the Vote in the Estimates.


said, it would be better to pass the Vote now, on the understanding that it would not be appropriated unless it was absolutely required.

Vote agreed to.

(13.) £16,428, to complete the sum for the Scottish Universities.

(14.) £1,750, to complete the sum for the National Gallery, Scotland.

(15.) £1,980, to complete the sum for the National Gallery, Ireland.

(16.) £1,734, to complete the sum for the Royal Irish Academy.

(17.) £3,286, to complete the sum for the Queen's University, Ireland.

(18.) £3,476, to complete the sum for the Queen's Colleges, Ireland.

(19.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £231,203, 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 1874, for the Expenses of Her Majesty's Embassies and Missions Abroad.


said, that in 1870, a Select Committee had been appointed to inquire into the Diplomatic and Consular Services, and he (Mr. Rylands), had been told that he was bound by the decision of that Committee. It was true that the Committee was appointed at his instigation; but he had no control over the nomination of its members, the majority of whom, from the first, were well known to be in favour of the interests of the services, and opposed to the views which he had advanced. He declined, therefore, to be bound by the Report of that Committee, and appealed to the evidence laid before them, and contained in the Blue Book, which he believed fully supported the opinion, that great economies might be effected. As a rule, Select Committees of that House had recommended increased expenditure upon the Diplomatic Service, and the Foreign Office were always ready to adopt such recommendations. The only Committee of late years which had reported in favour of economy in that department was the Official Salaries Committee of 1850, of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Lancashire (Colonel Wilson-Patten) was Chairman, and if the recommendations of that Committee had been adopted, a very largo saving would have been effected. But the permanent head of the Foreign Office had invariably resisted reforms, and in his evidence before successive Committees, had used all his ability and influence to raise salaries and increase expenditure. Fortunately there had been some reforms suggested by the late Committee, in opposition to the expressed opinions of the permanent Under Secretary, which were likely, if adopted, to promote the efficiency as well as the economy of the service. The Committee had recommended, for example, that the junior secretaries should not be removed so frequently as every two years from one mission to another. Nothing could be more absurd than that just when a diplomatic officer had acquired a knowledge of the language and customs of the country, and had attained a position to render valuable service, he should be sent to another mission in a distant part of the world to begin over again. That system, by rendering the members of the staffs less efficient, raised a necessity for the number being larger than would otherwise be required, and it also entailed considerable outlay for travelling expenses. In the Regulations recently issued by Lord Granville, this practice was maintained, although there was reserved to the Secretary of State "full power to extend the term beyond the two years"—a power which it was to be hoped that in the public interest, he would largely exercise. Lord Granville, had, however, adopted an important recommendation of the Committee, to the effect that the Heads of Missions should be required to report annually to the Secretary of State upon the conduct and ability of the Second and Third Secretaries serving under them, and that— Such reports shall be duly considered before any promotion or increase of pay or promotion is accorded to the persons to whom they apply. That was a most important improvement, and it was recommended by the Committee entirely in opposition to the Permanent Under Secretary, who seemed to imagine that chance reports received at the Foreign Office, possibly the mere tattle of people who had been abroad, were sufficient to enable the Foreign Secretary to judge of the qualifications of junior diplomatists better than the confidential Reports of the Heads of Missions. Nothing could be worse in its effect upon the service than the old system. There was no encouragement for merit, no punishment for negligence, or inefficiency in the performance of duties. Except in flagrant cases of misconduct, the Foreign Office never interfered, and the service sank into a dull leaden state of mediocrity, in which promotion depended almost entirely on seniority. The late Lord Dalling, when Sir Henry Bulwer, stated before the Committee, that however inefficient or incapable a diplomatist might be, he would, if he lived long enough, rise to be a Minister Plenipotentiary, if not an Ambassador. Another recommendation of the Committee which had been adopted by Lord Granville was also an improvement—namely, an interchange between the Foreign Office clerks and the junior members of the Diplomatic Service. That would enable relief to be sent to any Foreign Minister, who might find his permanent staff unequal to an emergency; and if properly followed up, would lead to economy in the diplomatic expenditure, by keeping down the staffs of missions abroad, at a much lower point. He entirely agreed with another part of Lord Granville's recent Regulations, to the effect that— The Secretary of State reserves to himself the power to recommend the Queen to name any person, even though not in the Diplomatic Service, for the higher and more responsible posts in it. If that course should be adopted it would enable the Government for the time being to select as its Representatives at the great Courts in Europe, distinguished statesmen from that or the other House of Parliament. It would be an opening for an honourable ambition which would secure the services of eminent politicians, and the mere question of salary would not be held to be of such vital importance. They heard very much of high salaries being necessary to obtain the services of competent men as Ambassadors, but the Prime Ministers of this country, far more heavily worked, and occupying a much more responsible position than a Minister abroad, received only £5,000 a-year. No doubt it would be urged that means must be provided for what were called the costs of repre- sentation at Foreign Missions. The Ambassador, it was said, was expected to give large balls, dinners, and other entertainments to those fashionable people from this country who crowd foreign capitals, and who had been introduced at the embassy, or were provided with what were known as "soup tickets" by the Foreign Office. That expenditure might be all very well, if borne by the Ambassador himself, but he entirely objected to its being thrown upon the taxes of the country. He quite admitted that Ambassadors should entertain the Ministers of foreign Powers, and also eminent statesmen and politicians abroad with whom it was no doubt necessary for them to be in friendly intercourse, and the expenditure on that account might fairly be considered in their salaries. In deciding what we should pay for diplomacy, we had a right to ask what did we expect to get for our money? What in these days did we wish to do by means of our diplomacy? During the last generation the character of our diplomacy and that of our foreign policy had entirely changed. Thirty years ago, such affairs as the Spanish marriages, the downfall of dynasties and of foreign Governments, or a small extension of territory abroad, were held to be matters of serious moment by the Foreign Office, and led to endless diplomatic notes and correspondence, but he supposed that now there was no notion on the part of the Foreign Office that we should interfere in such matters. As to many of those changes we had no concern in them; at all events, we had no control over them, and, practically, they had turned out for our advantage. Had Lord Palmerston been alive during the Franco-German War, he would have looked with the greatest repugnance and suspicion at the recent territorial aggrandizements of Prussia, and might possibly, by diplomatic "meddling and muddling," have involved this country in serious difficulties, and yet it was now evident that the consolidation of Germany furnished a great element in the maintenance of peace in Europe. It must be remembered also that the greater facilities of international communications in these days, coupled with the amazing power of the Press in obtaining and circulating intelligence, had affected materially the conditions under which diplomacy was carried on. The telegraph now flashed over the Continent messages containing the latest particulars of important events, or connected with matters of political interest. Lord Clarendon, in his speech in the House of Lords on May 8, 1866, fully acknowledged this great change. He said— There is now little of that secret diplomacy which in former days so much prevailed. …. Despatches of the most important character, and entailing the gravest consequences, are no sooner delivered than they are published; and the telegram secures that there shall be no priority of information."—[3 Hansard, clxxxiii. 572.] That was, in fact, the whole gist of the question. Public opinion—far more than private intrigue—determined the action of Foreign Governments. He (Mr. Rylands) did not contend on these grounds that diplomacy should be abolished, but he thought it should be limited to its proper functions, and that it was not needful for us to have so costly a system of representation in all parts of the world. The great States were foci of moral influence, and we ought to be properly represented there; but he noticed that the writer of an article in the leading journal, on the Motion of the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) respecting the San Juan Boundary, remarked that the gentlemen who represent us abroad make an appearance of doing something, although, in point of fact, they had little or nothing to do. While, however, he did not intend to contest the propriety of our being represented by Ambassadors in the principal Courts of Europe and in the United States, he wished to point out that we paid those gentlemen considerably more as a rule than diplomatists in the service of other Powers received. For example, the German Ambassador at Paris received only 24,800, while our Ambassador there received £10,000 a-year. Moreover, the American Minister in the French Capital was paid only £3,500, though it must be confessed that during the last few years American diplomacy had been far more successful than ours. We paid for diplomatic services in 1869–70 £93,000, the French expenditure during the same period being £95,000, that of the United States £30,000, and that of the Prussians £55,000. As regarded America, he ventured to say that her diplomatists, with- out any of the adventitious circumstances which surrounded our close system, had completely beaten our Representatives. In addition to the great Embassies, there were in Europe a number of Missions to the smaller Courts; and although we, doubtless, ought to be represented there, it was absurd to maintain in Denmark, Greece, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland, Ministers Plenipotentiary and Envoys Extraordinary, with a staff of secretaries and under secretaries. At these Courts he would suggest that we should be represented by a Chargè d' Affaires, with an understanding that a special Envoy should be sent from this country in the event of grave difficulties arising. We had a Minister Plenipotentiary at Berne, with a salary of £2,500, whereas the Swiss Republic was content to be represented in London by a Consul General, with a salary of about £1,200. Again, we maintained several petty establishments which ought to be swept away, such as those at Coburg, Dresden, Darmstadt, Bavaria, and Würtemberg. The smaller German States formed part of the Federal Union, and we only magnified their importance unduly before the world by maintaining our Missions there. We encouraged Russia and France to do the same, and in that way we made those places centres of mischief and intrigue. We ought to support the German Emperor, who wanted to get rid of political and diplomatic representation at these small Courts. Nothing was done by these petty Ministers which was for the advantage of the country. Prince Bismarck, when a junior member of the diplomatic service at Frankfort in 1851, recorded his opinion that the diplomatic agents busied themselves about the merest trifles, and appeared to him more ridiculous than a deputy of a Second Chamber in his full blown dignity; and he said—"None of us know an atom of what is going to happen any more than we do of the next year's fall of snow." The abolitions or reductions which might be made in these smaller German Courts would effect a reduction of £16,000. In South America we kept up an unnecessary staff, by the consolidation of which we might effect a considerable saving. Under these circumstances he thought it a modest proposal to move, as he did, that the Vote should be reduced by the sum of £5,000.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £226,203, 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 1874, for the Expenses of Her Majesty's Embassies and Missions Abroad."—(Mr. Rylands.)


with reference to the Vote of £50,000 for the North American Boundary Commission, asked whether the half of that sum, which was to be paid by Canada, had yet been voted by the Dominion Parliament; and, whether any part of the expense would be borne by the United States Government? It seemed to him that the United States had the best of the bargain.


denied the assertion of the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands) that the Foreign Office was extravagant in its expenditure, and that it had disregarded the recommendations of the Select Committee on the Diplomatic Service. He would quote a statement, showing the increase and decrease on the Diplomatic Estimate since the year 1869–70, excluding the sum taken for special services. In 1869–70 the estimate was £215,867, in 1870–1 the estimate was £208,919, being a decrease of £6,948; in 1871–2 the estimate was £203,876, being a decrease of £5,043; in 1872–3 the estimate was £193,326, being a decrease of £10,550; in 1873–4 the estimate was £197,203, showing an increase of £3,877. That increase was mainly accounted for by the provision made for carrying out the recommendations of the Select Committee on Diplomatic Services with regard to the increase of the salaries of second and third secretaries. These figures showed that the decrease on the five years was £22,541; deducting the increase, £3,877, the net decrease on the five years was £18,664. Therefore, on the score of economy no strong case was made out. As to the removal of second secretaries every two years, the revised rules, confirmed by Lord Granville, reserved full power, for special reasons, to extend the period of service at one place beyond the two years. The heads of missions never failed to report upon the conduct of junior members. The practice of selecting Representatives for important posts from the Diplomatic service already had been broken through in the case of Lord Kimberley, when he was sent to St. Petersburg, and that of Mr. Layard, when he was appointed to Madrid. The hon. Gentleman said that reductions should be made in the diplomatic establishments in the small German States. He would remind the hon. Gentleman that at Stuttgardt and Munich they now had simply a Chargé d' Affaires. These States had votes in the German Federal Council, and it must be remembered that upon their votes might depend a declaration of war or the adoption of an important policy. In the Federal Council, Prussia had 17 votes; Bavaria, 6; Saxony, 4; Würtemberg, 4; Baden, 3; and Hesse, 3; and there were distributed among the smaller States 21, making a total of 58 votes. He was not sure that his hon. Friend had alluded to any particular item of increase, except in the matter of wages to servants, which had occurred principally at Constantinople and Teheran.


wished to have details of the increase separate from the Estimate.


repeated that the increase was in the amount of wages to servants at the two places mentioned.


said, if the noble Lord would look at the Estimates for 1869–70 he would see exactly what he wished to be done in future.


said, he was afraid he could not very well gather from his hon. Friend's statement exactly what he wanted. The hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt) had asked him as to the sum required, £50,000, for the expense of the British North American Boundary Commission. Half of it was to be borne by the Canadian Dominion; and he was not able to say whether or not it had been already voted by the Canadian Legislature. The survey had only just begun. The United States would, of course, have to bear their share of the expenses. What we undertook was to pay half the Canadian Legislature. He earnestly hoped that the Committee would not consent to the reduction of £5,000 proposed in this vote by his hon. Friend (Mr. Rylands). At the same time, he could assure them the Secretary of State was most anxious to make reductions wherever they could be made without detriment to the public service.


said, the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands) having alluded to him personally, he would beg to say a few words. It had often given him pleasure, while holding diplomatic appointments under Her Majesty, to see Gentlemen, Members of that House, and other persons of distinction, who were anxious to obtain information abroad, and which they could not have so easily obtained as when provided with what the hon. Member for Warrington called "tickets for soup;" and he had no doubt the hon. Member for Warrington himself, although so decided an enemy to the Diplomatic Body, if he applied to the noble Viscount for introductions before going abroad would receive them. If he did so, no doubt the hon. Gentleman would find our Diplomatic Representatives willing to aid him in every way in their power. The hon. Gentleman had stated that he had sat with him for two years in the same room on the Diplomatic Committee, and he would say the patience of the Committee had been severely tried by the numerous and lengthy questions which were put to some of the witnesses. The hon. Member further said he had sat two years on the Committee, and the result was, that everybody on the Committee was opposed to him; which reminded him (Mr. W. Lowther) of the juryman who complained that he was locked up with 11 obstinate men, none of whom would come to his opinion. The hon. Member complained that, although recommendations had been made by the Committee, they were not always followed. One of the recommendations of a former Committee was, that gentlemen employed in the diplomatic profession should be moved every three years. That recommendation had been carried out by Lord Malmesbury, and now, as he understood, the hon. Member complained of its adoption. The hon. Gentleman contended that our minor diplomatic establishments should be done away with, or left to Chargés d' Affaires, and when a difficulty arose a statesman should be sent to settle it. If the hon. Member was behind the scenes, he would know that questions could be often settled very quietly between an Ambassador and a Minister, without raising any alarm at all. Let them suppose that a difficulty arose in Germany, and that Her Majesty were to say to Lord Granville—"We must send out a statesman; there is the hon. Member for Warrington; he has not got any par- ticular hobby in the House at present; let him go and settle the difficulty"—persons who were not acquainted with the hon. Member would feel very much alarmed at seeing a gentleman coming out to settle a difficulty of which he knew nothing; and he (Mr. W. Lowther) did not know that the result would be satisfactory. With regard to the expenses of Foreign Embassies, the hon. Gentleman forgot that the arrangements with regard to the pay of Diplomatic Agents were not the same in all countries; for instance, in America their Representatives received an outfit, and in some cases there was not only an "outfit," but he might call it an "infit." English Diplomats did not receive any infit. It must be admitted, adopting the testimony of Lord Clarendon, Lord Derby, and others, that Her Majesty had a most efficient body of public servants in the diplomatic profession, and they sent home a great deal of most interesting information. No doubt, there was not that secrecy now in diplomacy there was formerly; but still there were secret things going on, and though the news might be flashed by telegraph, a great deal of it was excessively inaccurate. The hon. Member for Warrington appeared to think diplomacy might very well be carried on by telegraph; but after a service of 25 years, and knowing, as he thought, a good deal more of the profession than the hon. Member for Warrington, he must say they had on the whole a very economical, honourable, straightforward, and efficient diplomacy, and the evidence taken before the Diplomatic Committee all tended to prove this.

Question put, and negatived.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

(20.) £40,030, to complete the sum for Governors, &c., Colonies.


said, he had a few remarks to offer to the House, relative to the proceedings which were taking place on the Gold Coast, and which had involved this country in war. He wished, before agreeing to a grant in aid of West African government, for some explanations about the Ashantee War, the third of those wars in which we had been engaged. These were by no means contemptible affairs; they cost the country a good deal of money, and were very fatal to the troops engaged in them. The House was told the other day by the Colonial Secretary, that an action had taken place on the coast, with results disastrous to the English, and that Her Majesty's ships were engaged in support of the conflict. The Colonial Secretary also stated, what struck the House as being rather remarkable, that his own information about the incursion was so imperfect and inaccurate, that what he had at first supposed to be a force of only 4,000 men, turned out to be an army of 40,000. He wished to ask the Government what was the true state of the case. The occasion, as he understood, was the transfer of the Dutch forts on the Gold Coast to the English Government; a transfer evidently unfortunate, though as the convention was completed, it must be carried out. The last inquiry which that House had made into general policy on the West African coast was that carried on by a Select Committee of which he was Chairman in 1865. That Committee recommended non-extension of English territory on that coast. The inquiry lasted the whole Session, and the Committee consisted of many eminent men, and the conclusion which they came to was, that we had no interest in maintaining governments on that coast, and that our right policy was as soon as possible to enable the natives to manage their own affairs. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cardwell), then Secretary to the Colonies, carried out in the most significant manner the policy thus recommended, and so did all the Colonial Ministers since then, including those of Lord Derby's Administration. In fact, the feeling of the Committee was, that we had no longer any interest in holding territory in West Africa. We held those lands at first to promote the slave trade, and afterwards to extinguish it. But both those motives had now ceased, for the slave trade on that Coast was a thing of the past, it would have been put down much sooner had we operated on the demand rather than on the supply of slaves, and England had no longer any desire to send her forces to that pestilential clime. Our mercantile interest was also certainly in favour of non-extension of territory. Our merchants throve best on the Niger and those parts where they had no English Government or Force to help them to quarrel with the natives. Still, while we remained a better arrangement became necessary, as our intermixture of posts rendered a Customs' revenue impracticable, and the English and the Dutch had exchanged forts. No sooner had the negotiation been carried out, and was about to be put in force, than it was found that it was not so easy for the Dutch to go into English forts, although there was no difficulty in the English, who were more popular with the natives, going into the Dutch forts. These two Powers had allied themselves to different native tribes—the Dutch with the Ashantees, and the English with the Fantis. The Ashantees were a more powerful, half-Arab tribe, pressing the weaker natives towards the sea from the interior. Difficulties of no small magnitude arose, and blood was shed. At last, the Dutch and English considered it necessary on one side or the other to transfer the forts, so that one European Power or other should have all. It would have been fortunate for the English, if the agreement had ultimately been that she should transfer her forts to the Dutch. The result, however, was that in February, 1871, England acquired all the Dutch forts on the western coast of Africa, and took upon herself all the trouble, expense, and liabilities of Government; but the Dutch would retain all the advantages of trade with the country. Then a claim was made by the Ashantees to Elmina, one of the Dutch forts. The Dutch denied that they had any claim to sovereignty, but recommended the English to pay an annual sum of 900 florins, or £80, to the Ashantees, according to an old standing practice with the Dutch. It clearly would have been wise not to have refused to continue the payment, for the consequence of saving £80 a year might be very grave. In the year 1872, other things, complicated affairs, and negotiations had to be very ably conducted by Mr. Pope Hennessy, before they could be got rid of. There was a seizure of German missionaries, whom the King of the Ashantees refused to release until he had received a ransom of £1,000. There was also a question of allowances exacted from merchants at Elmina for Ashantee traders there, which the merchants sought to repudiate. The trade had ceased since 1863, and revived on the transfer of forts. Colonel Harley took the side of the merchants, while Governor Hennessy counselled submission to the exaction. This troubled state of things led to a Fanti Confederation, against which in October, 1872, Mr. Ussher, Administrator of Gold Coast, issued a violent proclamation, "to arrest and commit to prison all committing overt acts on behalf of confederation." Governor Hennessy ordered the recall of this proclamation. After this Colonel Harley seemed to have made an unfortunate speech to the chiefs at Elmina—"The Queen will not permit native customs to continue." Two Kings were arrested and imprisoned at Elmina, and afterwards on board Her Majesty's ships. The result was that the whole coast was under a British Protectorate of the most indefinite kind, and he hoped to hear the assurance of the Government that this country was not likely to be involved in further difficulty on account of such an anomalous state of things.


drew attention to the Vote of £1,800 for the Governor of Western Australia, and suggested that a Vote should be taken next year with a view to survey the land now in the hands of the Crown in Australia, so that we might know what was the extent of it, and how much was available for agriculture and for emigration.


deprecated any new war on the coast of Africa. As far as civilization went, we seemed to make no impression on the coast, and there seemed to be little advance in trade. It was painful, also, to send out Englishmen, who died off so rapidly in that dreadful climate.


said, his right hon. Friend the Member for North Staffordshire (Sir Charles Adderley) was in error in supposing that our ships had taken part in the recent conflict on the West Coast, for the battle really occurred some miles inland. He was glad to say that the Houssas, or local police, who were engaged in it on the side of the Fantis, had behaved in a most creditable manner, and had exercised great moral influence over the Fantis, who in consequence had made a more strenuous resistance to the Ashantees than they had ever before been known to do. We had looked forward a long time to this local police force, upon which the defence of the West Coast must ultimately depend. The climate was fatal to white men, and hardly less so to the West India regiments; and the local police was a safer, a more economical, and more efficient Force than any other for the defence of the forts of the West Coast. The organization of such a Force, however, was a work of time. It was true that the number of Ashantees invading the Coast had been under-estimated; but there was great difficulty in obtaining accurate information among these savage tribes, and the tendency to exaggeration was such that Colonel Harley had in a previous despatch expressed his opinion that the number was much more likely to be 4,000 than 30,000; and as soon as more certain information had undeceived him, he had so reported, and he (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) had taken the earliest opportunity of making the correction known to the House. His right hon. Friend had alluded to the policy of the Committee of 1865, and seemed to think that the sooner we were out of West Africa the better. Now, it was quite true that one of the resolutions of the Committee on the West Coast was to the effect that all further extensions of territory, or assumptions of government, or now Treaties affording protection to the native tribes, would be inexpedient, and that our best policy was gradually to fit the natives for the administration of the government, with a view to our ultimate withdrawal from the whole coast, except, possibly, from Sierra Leone. But, however good such a policy might be, the publication of that recommendation had not been altogether fortunate. The effect of making known that our intention was to withdraw from the West Coast was naturally to place a weapon in the hands of those who wished to excite disquiet and stir up disaffection. In fact, there were many reasons why it would be better for us to withdraw at once than give to the native tribes the notion that we were only staying there as long as it suited our interest to do so. But were public opinion and the opinion of the House really in favour of any such withdrawal? Some time ago it appeared that France was ready to take the whole Settlement of the Gambia. An outcry arose, however, both in the House and in the country, and when, owing to the state of France, the negotiations were broken off, universal satisfaction was expressed with his announcement that there was no intention of resuming them. If, then, the House of Commons and the country were reluctant to part with the Gambia, he thought they would hardly be prepared to part with the other British Settlements on the West Coast. Nor did he admit that no good came from holding them, for during our occupation trade had greatly developed, the resources of the country had largely increased, and civilization and Christianity had made considerable progress. On the Gold Coast there was an intermixture of government between the Dutch and the English, and it was found inconvenient to have such a double government. The Treaty whereby the Dutch forts were ceded to us, stated that the mixed dominion of Great Britain and the Netherlands on the Coast of Guinea had done much harm to the native population, and that was why the Dutch forts were accepted by the British Government. The policy then pursued had never been challenged in the House of Commons, and he believed that the bringing of all the forts under one Government was advantageous to the locality and acceptable to the people of this country. His right hon. Friend found fault with the way in which the transfer was carried out, and stated that prior to the signing of the Convention, the King of Ashantee laid claim to the fort of Elmina. The printed Correspondence showed, however, that we refused to take the forts until the King of Ashantee had himself stated that the supposed advancement of his claim was wholly a mistake. He had addressed a letter to that effect to the Dutch Governor, who had replied in terms which informed the King that his letter was understood as a complete renunciation of his claim, and in such interpretation he had acquiesced. After that formal renunciation, surely, no one would argue that we ought to have put a stop to the negotiations, because this savage Monarch might, at some future time, again eat his words and advance his claim. As to the payment to the King of Ashantee, we declined to have anything to do with the forts until the Dutch Government had stated that it was intended solely for the encouragement of trade and not as a tribute, and the King had himself admitted that such was the case. Papers on all these matters would be shortly presented to the House, and it was desirable to abstain from discussing them more fully at present. He must, for that reason, abstain from expressing any opinion upon the general views of Mr. Hennessy upon these matters, but in regard to the speech Colonel Harley was said to have made, he must state that, in fact, it was never delivered, although, no doubt, Mr. Hennessy had been informed that it was, and as it had been asserted that the war was owing to Colonel Harley's bad management, he was bound to call attention to the fact, that the Ashantees had actually marched before Colonel Harley had even arrived at the Gold Coast. The right hon. Gentleman had alluded to the arrest of two Kings, but he did not seem to be aware that this was quite a separate transaction from the arrest of the King of Elmina—the two Kings, one of the Dutch and the other of the English native tribes, at Secondee, had been arrested on account of a quarrel between them, in which houses were plundered and property destroyed, but the King of Elmina's arrest was a different affair. The latter arrest was most fortunate, for there could be little doubt that he was in league with the King of Ashantee, and that he had taken an oath to destroy the British power. As to introducing the oath of allegiance, it should be remembered that exceptional cases required exceptional treatment, and that method had been resorted to before under similar circumstances as a test of loyalty to the British Crown. By his refusing to take the oath of allegiance, the King of Elmina showed to the Governor that the charges brought against him were probably not without foundation. The British Protectorate of the West Coast of Africa, which his right hon. Friend could not understand, was clogged and hindered by the existence of domestic slavery. Wherever territory was held by this country, slavery, of course, could not exist, but it was impossible to abolish domestic slavery among the native tribes, and that circumstance had been the main obstacle in the way of our acquiring territory on that coast. From this, too, arose the fact that the British Protectorate was of a somewhat indefinite character; but he believed the feeling of the people of England was that we ought to exercise a moral and beneficial influence over the native tribes. We had endeavoured to extend Christianity, to advance civilization, and to open up trade. We had already done much towards accomplishing these objects, and he hoped we should do more. The Government were taking active measures in order to put an end to the war, but it was their earnest desire in no case of this kind to use force if peaceable negotiations were likely to be available. In reply to the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. Macfie), he had to state that in all those colonies where responsible government was established, the Ministers of the Government naturally had control over the waste lands, and we could only deal with the young colony of Western Australia in the same way as we had done with the other Australian colonies.

Vote agreed to

(21.) £3,016, to complete the sum for the Orange River Territory and St. Helena.

(22.) £72, to complete the sum for the Slave Trade Commissions.

(23.) £11,229, to complete the sum for Tonnage Duties, &c.


said, according to a statement of Mr. Stanley, the discoverer of Dr. Livingstone, it appeared that captured slaves who were liberated had to serve an apprenticeship of five years, but the local Government received a small profit on this transaction. He suggested that any such profit ought to be given to the liberated Africans.


observed that under the heading of "Clothes and Stores" he observed a sum of £10 taken for supplying clothes to liberated Africans. He desired to have some explanation as to that item. Full-dress in Africa was not a costly affair; but £10 to meet that source of expenditure seemed a very small affair indeed to appear in the Estimates.


said, that the clothing of an African was, as a rule, somewhat sparse, and for that reason the sum asked for was sufficient for the purpose for which it was taken. If it were not spent it would be repaid to the Treasury. He would admit that the suggestion of the hon. Member for Kendal (Mr. Whitwell) deserved attention.

Vote agreed to.

(24.) £4,429, to complete the sum for Emigration.


regretted that there were greater facilities for emigrants to go to the United States than to our own colonies, and expressed his opinion that the Board ought to consider the matter with a view of retaining a larger proportion of the emigrants under the dominion of the British Crown. The Board was originally constituted to develop the lands of the British Empire, The right hon. Gentleman had said that if the colony of Western Australia asked for the control of their lands, it would be given to them in the same way as it had been given in reference to other colonies. This was to be regretted, because experience had shown that the effect of that policy was to prevent such lands from being available for the people of this country. In his opinion, this course should not be followed any further, especially as these lands in Western Australia were almost the only ones now remaining under the control of Parliament. In his opinion, the infusion of a little new blood in reference to the constitution of the Board would do good.


asked why the Staff of the Emigration Commission had not been reduced, though an important part of their duties had been transferred to the Board of Trade?


replied, that there had not yet been an opportunity for a full revision of the Staff.

Vote agreed to.

(25.) £4,200, to complete the sum for the Treasury Chest.

(26.) £317,996, to complete the sum for Superannuation Allowances.


asked to what extent superannuation had gone on for the last year?


said, he was not aware of any change which had recently taken place; there was very little difference from year to year.


said, that the name of the Rev. Thomas Thurlow appeared upon the Vote; but he did not know what office that gentleman had filled nor how long he had remained in it. His own opinion was that it had been a sinecure from the commencement, and the sooner they affirmed the principle of disestablishing such Votes as this the better. The gross sum which that Gentleman had received amounted to £493,000, and the matter was really a disgrace to the Government and to the country.


called attention to the fact that in many cases of superannuation the amount simply was given without reference to the age of person or any particulars.


also said, that no information was given in reference to the age of the pensioners. Last year there was an Act of Parliament granting the Accountant General in Chancery his full allowance of £4,200 a-year; yet they were not informed in the Estimates of his age or his period of service.


said, that there were important discussions in the House last year as to the Accountant General's case, when the decision of the Government was overruled, and he was granted his full pension. The omissions of information in the Votes would he hoped in future be supplied. The hon. Member (Mr. Mellor) had referred to a matter of very remote antiquity, and he (Mr. Baxter) was not able to give an account of it. The pension was given to Mr. Thurlow about 40 years ago.


said, power was given last year to grant a pension amounting to the full salary under special circumstances, and he wished to know what the special circumstances were?


asked if the Government were perfectly satisfied that Mr. Thurlow was still alive?


He is alive; I have made inquiries.

Vote agreed to.

(27.) £33,588, to complete the sum for the Merchant Seamen's Fund.

(28.) £27,500, to complete the sum for Distressed British Seamen Abroad.

(29.) £15,750, to complete the sum for Hospitals and Infirmaries, Ireland.

(30.) £4,616, to complete the sum for Miscellaneous Charitable and other Allowances, Great Britain.

(31.) £4,924, to complete the sum for Miscellaneous Charitable and other Allowances, Ireland.

(32.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £14,027, 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 1874, for the Salaries and Incidental Expenses of temporary Commissions.


remarked upon the niggardly character of the Vote for the expenses of the Royal Commission for the Vienna Exhibition as compared with the liberal grants of all other Governments, and said, that but for the spirited manner in which several gentlemen—notably Sir Richard Wallace—had come forward and lent Art productions for exhibition in Vienna, we should have been left behind. Great praise was also due to British exhibitors in the industrial departments for taking upon themselves the entire cost of the exhibition.


asked as to when the Rivers Pollution Inquiry Commission and the Aid to Science Commission were likely to terminate?


said, the Commission on the Pollution of Rivers was expected to conclude its labours during the present financial year, and the Aid to Science Commission to conclude its labour in the course of the following financial year. It was part of the duty of the Treasury to see that the various Commissioners brought their labours to a conclusion as quickly as possible.


objected to the item of £300 for the salary of the English Secretary at the Vienna Exhibition. The gentleman sent to Vienna in that capacity received a standing salary of £600 per annum as Superintendent of the South Kensington Museum, and as he was to receive £150 for rent at Vienna, and also two guineas per day for his personal expenses, he was surely not entitled to £300 in the shape of additional salary. Moreover, his duties at South Kensington Museum had to be discharged by some one else in his absence. He would, therefore, move the reduction of the Vote by £300.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £13,727, 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 1874, for the Salaries and Incidental Expenses of temporary Commissions."—(Mr. Rylands.)


admitted that in principle it was undesirable to take men from their ordinary duties and pay them extra for other work, but this was an exceptional case. He maintained that there were occasions on which a person was pre-eminently fitted for discharging the duties of such a post as that of Secretary to the Vienna Exhibition Commission, and that was one of those occasions. He believed the gentleman in question, Mr. Owen, was the very best man who could be sent to Vienna for such a purpose. As he was the best man, it would have been unwise to have passed over him because of his position in the public service; while the extra pay was deserved for special duty, which, if performed by anyone else, must have cost much more.


also thought Mr. Owen was the most fit person they could find to perform the duties attaching to his position. He said this from an intimate acquaintance with his character and attainments. If anyone else had been sent to Vienna, the country would have had to pay at least £1,000 a-year, instead of the small sum which the gentleman in question was to receive.


did not for a moment dispute the eminent qualifications of the gentleman acting as Secretary to the Commission; but he objected to the policy.


in reference to the sum of £5,000 in the Estimates, remarked that the words prefixed to it—"Commissions which may hereafter be appointed," left a good deal to the imagination.


explained that the Science and Art Commission had a very wide range of inquiry. It had sat only two years, and he believed it would finish its work next year. It had lost no time, and it had been exceptionally economical.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

(33.) £2,545, to complete the sum for Oceanic Investigations.

(34.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £5,165, 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 1874, for certain Miscellaneous Expenses.


took exception to expenditure for investing persons with the Orders of the Garter and the Thistle. Last year he gave Notice that he would move the reduction of the Vote, because he thought persons receiving Orders should pay any expenses connected with them; and he, therefore, now moved the reduction of the Vote by £1,000.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £4,165, he 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 1874, for certain Miscellaneous Expenses."—(Mr. Monk.)


said, this item varied every year, and was fixed in the Lord Chamberlain's Department, it being a matter over which the Treasury had very little control. This year 25 badges of the Colonial Order of St. George would involve an outlay of £775; and you could not ask the recipients of these honours to pay for them.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 12; Noes 54: Majority 42.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

(35.) £983,015, Customs Department.


asked, whether any further consideration had been given to the proposal to consolidate the Customs and Inland Revenue Departments?


said, the question was still under the consideration of a Select Committee up stairs.


pointed out that in this Vote there was an annual sum of £4,083 paid for the superannuation of three secretaries. He wished to know how it was that so many secretaries had been superannuated?


observed that the superannuation allowances in question were £1,300 a-year each, though the working salaries were very little more.


said, he was quite unable to explain the matter; but he would obtain the necessary information before the Report was brought up.

In reply to Mr. BOWRING,


said, the supervision of the various outport establishments had been completed, and while the establishments at London and Liverpool were to be greatly reduced, the establishments at the outports would be considerably increased. A Return would shortly be laid before the House showing all the recent changes that had taken place in the Customs Department.

Vote agreed to.

(36.) £1,678,236, Inland Revenue.


asked, whether there was any prospect of carrying out the plan, which had been approved, whereby the post offices throughout the country should sell stamps of every description?


said, in this Department there were also three secretaries superannuated, receiving £3,310 a-year.


suggested the propriety, now that duties were levied on tea, coffee, sugar, and fruit only, that the Customs and the Inland Revenue Departments should be united, and a large number of solicitors, secretaries, Commissioners, and other high officers thus got rid of.


said, that whatever arguments might be used in favour of it, such an amalgamation would greatly add to the Estimates for a long time to come. In reply to the Question of the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. Macfie), he might say that the system of selling stamps at the post offices was already in operation, and it was being gradually extended.

Vote agreed to.

House resumed.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow; Committee to sit again upon Wednesday.