HC Deb 05 March 1880 vol 251 cc544-6

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the following Members be nominated as the Select Committee of Public Accounts:—Sir WALTER BARTTELOT, Lord FREDERICK CAVENDISH, Mr. CUBITT, Mr. GOLDNEY, Mr. HANKEY, Sir HENRY HOLLAND, Sir JOHN LUBBOCK, Sir CHARLES MILLS, Mr. SHAW, Mr. SEELY, and Sir HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON."—(Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson.)


said, that he did not intend to oppose the nomination of these Gentlemen; but he might tell the hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Treasury that very considerable dissatisfaction existed with regard to the Committee. It would be found that upon that Committee there were not the names of any of those Gentlemen who were in the habit of taking an active part in the discussion in Committee of Supply. In his opinion, it was very desirable that the Committee should be formed of Gentlemen who were acquainted with what had taken place in the discussion upon the Votes. He believed that there were Gentlemen willing to serve upon that Committee, who were well acquainted with the subject, and had paid attention to these matters. He merely rose for the purpose of expressing his regret that, notwithstanding representations made to the hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Treasury, no alteration had taken place in the constitution of the Committee.


said, he could assure his hon. Friend that it was to the noble Lord who was usually elected Chairman of this Committee that representations with regard to its formation should be addressed. He should also like to point out that it was especially necessary for the conduct of the business of a Committee of this kind that it should consist of a small number of Members. It required, moreover, hon. Members who could give constant attendance to it. The hon. Member must admit that it was always invidious to single out the names of any particular Members to take off the Committee. With the exception of two hon. Members—one of them a Member from Ireland—who were placed on the Committee last year, he might say that the Committee had remained in its present position for a very considerable period. But while he could not consent to single out any hon. Member to take off the Committee, yet he would be very glad to add the name of the hon. Member to the Committee, but for the fact that any increase in the number of the Committee would impede its business. If the Committee were to be enlarged it would become almost impossible for it to get through its business.


said, that he thought it was one of the Standing Orders of the House that this Committee should consist of only 11 Members and he should be glad if the hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Treasury could tell him whether or not that was the case. No doubt, it would be very invidious to object to the name of any hon. Member; but it was notorious that several hon. Gentlemen, forming that Committee, were by no means regular in their attendance upon it. Some of the Members attended regularly to investigate the accounts; but others did not. The hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) had said, truly, that not one Member of the Committee, except the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, was a regular attendant in the House when it went into Committee of Supply. Thus it would be seen that not one of those Gentlemen was so well fitted to investigate those accounts as the hon. Member for Burnley; and he hoped that the Government would in future bear that in mind and place his hon. Friend upon the Committee.


said, that the duties of the Committee were confined to ascertaining whether or not appropriation had been properly carried out. The Committee could not question any Vote, but were simply charged with the duty of seeing that it had been properly expended. The Vote itself did not come under their cognizance, nor, under the Appropriation Act, had they any power to deal with it.

Question put, and agreed to. Committee nominated accordingly.