HC Deb 11 June 1875 vol 224 cc1764-72

SUPPLY—considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

(1.) £36,646, to complete the sum for the House of Lords Offices.

(2.) £41,651, to complete the sum for the House of Commons Offices.


said, he was of opinion that the salaries of the officers of the House of Commons ought to be equal to those of the House of Lords.

Vote agreed to.

(3.) £47,516, to complete the sum for the Treasury.


said, there was an item in this Vote which called for explanation. It was that which referred to the Auditor of the Civil List. He should like to know what were the duties of that officer, seeing that he had a salary of £1,500 a-year?


said, the officer in question was really an assistant to the Secretary to the Treasury. The title of Auditor of the Civil List conveyed no idea of the important duties he had to perform, and he was probably one of the most hard-worked men in the Department.


wished to know what those duties were?


asked whether this particular gentleman had any other salary?


No; he has no other salary.


, in answer to the question of Sir Charles Dilke, said, he understood the office was formerly a sinecure, but for some time an alteration had been made in the Department. The senior clerk in the office had been appointed to the position, and his time was fully employed.

In reply to Mr. GREGORY,


said, the Government had resolved to raise the salary of the Chairman of Ways and Means, so as to make it equivalent to that of the Chairman of Committees in the House of Lords. The increase would take effect from the commencement of the present financial year, although it did not appear in the Estimates.

Vote agreed to.

(4.) £73,272, to complete the sum for the Home Office.


, in the case of the Inspectors of Mines, wished to know whether those officers were paid by salary, or in consideration of each mine they inspected?


said, he had to take exception to the charge, and particularly with reference to the expenses of mine Inspectors which were heavy and called for explanation.


said, that the salaries of these Inspectors had not risen in proportion to the general advance, and it must be difficult in consequence to get competent men to undertake the duties.


said, the payments objected to were not additions to the salaries of the Inspectors, but commuted allowances for hotel expenses; their travelling expenses were repaid to them strictly according to the sums disbursed.

Vote agreed to.

(5.) £51,692, to complete the sum for the Foreign Office.

(6.) £27,738, to complete the sum for the Colonial Office.

(7.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £29,252, 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 1876, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, and Subordinate Departments.


said, he had moved for certain Returns in connection with the expenses of this Department. He found that a considerable outlay was charged under the head of investigations in aid of medical science. Those investigations included the chemical constitution of the brain, febrile diseases, cancer, and sheep pox, and he contended that, however, valuable such amateur investigations as he considered them, might be, they were not within the province of a public Department. He should therefore, move to reduce the Vote by £2,000.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £27,252, 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 1876, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, and Subordinate Departments."—(Mr. Dillwyn.)


wished the hon. Gentleman the Member for Swansea to understand that these investigations were not made merely for the benefit of the medical profession, but for the benefit of the public at large.


supported the Amendment. He did not see why, if the public money was to be expended in the investigation of disease alone—if sums of money were to be expended, he could not see why it should not be also expended in scientific measures directed to neutralizing of the dangerous gases which were found in the mines of the country.


supported the Vote.


said, hon. Members had entirely missed the point of the objection of the hon. Member for Swansea to the Vote. Nobody doubted that investigations of this kind were of inestimable value; but the question was, if they granted this sum, where were they to stop?


said, he was glad that the hon. Member for Swansea had brought that question up, as it enabled him (Viscount Sandon) to say that he had thought it right to communicate in regard to it with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe) who had been Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time when it was first inserted in the Votes. That right hon. Gentleman informed him that he had been very much struck at the time when Rinderpest was prevalent, by the important results of investigations he had instituted with reference to the origin of that disease among cattle, and had been led thereby to think that there might be great advantage in trying in a similar manner to find out the causes of some of the most serious and obscure disorders which afflicted mankind—as, for example, tubercle, typhus, and cancer. The investigations involved a vast amount of labour, and required the most delicate and expensive apparatus, so that no man of science, unless he had a large private fortune, would undertake them. That was the justification for the Vote. The population was devastated by those grievous and obscure diseases which he had mentioned, and from our ignorance of their causes, medical science could do comparatively little to combat them: surely, then, it was a wise thing to search out the origin of such diseases, and as such slow and unremunerative investigations could seldom be carried on by private enterprize, it seemed right and proper for the Government to undertake them. This being a matter which most seriously affected the health of a large part of the population, he thought it was a proper subject for Government action, and he, therefore, quite approved what the right hon. Gentleman had done. He would be extremely loth to see the expenditure cut off. The sum was but small, and one gentle-man—Dr. Sanderson—who was prominently connected with the investigations not only got no remuneration on account of them, but he believed was actually at some expense out of his own pocket. He was assured that these researches were acknowledged to be of extreme value by not only leading men in England, but by the most scientific men in Germany and France.


was of opinion that Dr. Sanderson ought to be properly remunerated for his labours. The whole expense of such investigations should be thrown upon the nation, and not shared with an individual.


said, that the objection to this Vote was, that there were scores of other directions in which such investigations might as well be carried on at the public expense as in this particular one, and if they agreed to the Vote he did not see where they could stop.

Question put,

The Committee divided:—Ayes 27; Noes 165: Majority 138.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

(8.) £105,531 to complete the sum for the Board of Trade.


asked for information respecting the vacation employment of Inspectors of Railways whose salaries they were now called upon to vote? He wished to know if there was any truth in the rumour that one of these Inspectors was about to proceed to Constantinople to engage in a heavy arbitration case in reference to Turkish railways; and, if so, whether the Government had given their sanction to his undertaking the task. He trusted the rumour was without foundation, even though it should appear that English subjects were interested in the railways in question.


said, that Captain Tyler was about to spend his vacation not in conducting an arbitration, but in making a report to the Turkish Government upon the railways recently constructed in European Turkey. Last year Captain Tyler spent his vacation in making a report on the Erie Railway. He received permission from the Board of Trade to do so, and he (Sir Charles Adderley) defended that permission in that House, on the ground that it was a matter within the discretion of the head of the Department, who was responsible to the House. In the present case, this was no question of the inspection of a railway undertaking by a private company, the request having been made by the Turkish Government through the Foreign Office. The Board of Trade-had consequently given the desired permission, and Captain Tyler had already left England on his mission.


said, he could not regard the explanation of the President of the Board of Trade as satisfactory, and hoped that the act would not be drawn into a precedent.


said, that if Captain Tyler was to receive Government pay for this mission, they ought not to pay their officers to make reports for other Governments; and if he was not to receive Government pay, still his report would be published in the newspapers, and if favourable would He held to give a sort of Government guarantee or sanction to the railway in question. Last year Captain Tyler was allowed to spend his vacation in making a report on the Erie Railway. English speculators advanced their money on the strength of that report, which was on the whole favourable to the undertaking. If the Government once allowed their officers to make reports in this way, they would next go to Russia and other countries, and no one knew where the practice would stop. We ought to keep our public officers for public works in England.


said, we were bound to assist Turkey in her material progress, and thought that the Board of Trade had exercised a proper discretion.


said, he thought it was a matter for serious consideration whether officials of the Board of Trade should be allowed, during their holidays, to go on a tour of inspection of foreign or colonial railways, thereby earning money, especially after what had occurred with regard to the Erie Railway, and after the remonstrances that were made from both sides of the House last year.


said, that after what had occurred with regard to foreign loans, our Inspectors should not be allowed to put their imprimatur on any foreign undertaking whatever.


disclaimed any intention of making an attack on Captain Tyler.


gave Notice that, if it ever again occurred that Captain Tyler or any other officer was allowed to devote his time to other services than those which he had undertaken to fulfil in this country, he would move the disallowance of his salary for the time he was employed, and most certainly divide the House on the subject.


maintained that the permission given to Captain Tyler last year and again this year was perfectly justifiable. He contended that it was right, and proper, and wise, and good, and beneficial. In both cases he presumed Captain Tyler was paid by those who employed him. In regard to the Erie Railway, he expressed no opinion either in favour of or against it, but merely gave his recommendations about putting the line in order. Captain Tyler's vacation was for two months, and he maintained that, both last year and this year, it was spent usefully, both for those who employed him and also for the country. An active officer's vacation was not to sit still and do nothing. It would also have been an extraordinary thing to have refused the request of the Turkish Government.


said, he noticed the appearance of a new official—the Solicitor to the Board of Trade. He wanted to know what his duties were to be. He would be satisfied if he were to be employed in connection with inquiries into casualties; but he would object to him if he was to be employed carrying on lawsuits, of which we had had quite too many with shipowners already, and all of them resulting in the country losing them, and having to pay all the costs on both sides.


said, he would be principally engaged in connection with inquiries into casualties.


asserted that at the end of his report on the Erie Railway, Captain Tyler had expressed an opinion in favour of the prospects of the line if it were prudently managed. He objected to a Government officer being allowed to go out and express an opinion that inspired confidence in a railway which had led to disaster.


said, the object for which Captain Tyler was going to Constantinople was to tell the Turkish Government, as an expert, whether they ought to pay a certain sum of money or not, amounting to £800,000 to a contractor, in respect to a certain railway. The railway in question was not going to appeal to the British public for capital.


thought if that practice were to be encouraged, they might have British officials reporting in favour of foreign oil wells and "salted" diamond fields.


thought, if Captain Tyler was not sufficiently paid for his services he should he paid more; but he should he required to give up the whole of his time to his own Government. Great abuse would creep in if they allowed British officials to employ their vacations in that way, and the Government might he compromised by the opinions they gave.


said, his objection was based on the ground that a public officer's holiday ought to be a real one, which would refresh him after his year's labours. If the Government invited any of their officers to give assistance to foreign Governments it should not be in their holidays.


thought it exceedingly objectionable that an officer holding an official position under the Government should have been permitted to lend any sanction to such an undertaking as the Erie Railway.


condemned the principle of the Board of Trade sending out an officer like Captain Tyler to inspect foreign railways and give his opinion on the matter.


said, the matter required consideration, for in accordance with their engagements, it was, no doubt, as a general rule, desirable that public servants should devote the whole of their time to the service of the public. He did not know that there was anything in the circumstances under which Captain Tyler was connected with the Erie Railway which could fairly he held to commit the Government. In the present case an application had been made by a foreign Government for the services of Captain Tyler for a particular duty, and his right hon. Friend near him seemed to think that duty could be discharged without inconvenience to the public service. Under these circumstances it would, he thought, be hard and contrary to the practice which had hitherto prevailed to interfere with the manner in which Captain Tyler might employ his vacations. He, at the same time, admitted that the whole question was one which required to be dealt with, and the attention of the Government would be directed to it between this and next year.


said, nothing could be more unsatisfactory than the Board of Trade inquiries into shipwrecks, and that at an enormous waste of money. There were not two parties desiring to arrive at particular results; but it was a kind of philosophical inquiry held at Greenwich, at great inconvenience to the professional men engaged. The nautical assessors were not always equal to conducting the inquiry, and the results were simply nil.


defended the inquiries, and declared that much good was derived from them. He did not, however, deny that the expense of such inquiries might be reduced.


thought the way in which the money was spent was worse than useless. If half the sum were honestly expended in trying to prevent unseaworthy ships from going to sea, instead of being squandered in farcical inquiries intended to throw dust in the eyes of the public, the loss of life at sea, he believed, would be diminished by half.


hoped that in future, there would be some clearer specification of the manner in which the money was spent.

Vote agreed to.

(9.) £2,249, to complete the sum for the Privy Seal Office.


objected to the Vote on the ground than an officer who had no ostensible duties to perform ought not to receive a salary. He should therefore move its omission.

Motion made, and Question put, That a sum, not exceeding £2,249, 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 1876, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Lord Privy Seal.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 124; Noes 44: Majority 80.

House resumed.

Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next;

Committee to sit again upon Monday next.