Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £1,226,200, be granted to Her Majesty, beyond
the ordinary Grants of Parliament, towards defraying the Expenditure which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1880, in consequence of the War in South Africa.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, he thought the Vote was a very large one. It would bring up the Supplementary Votes for this particular purpose to about £4,500,000 in excess of the ordinary charge for the Forces employed in South Africa. The cost of the troops employed during the last two or three years had been charged to the Military and Naval Estimates, and very large sums of money had been voted by Parliament for maintaining the Forces in South Africa. He had no doubt that the ordinary charge would amount to some millions; but he was not in a position to arrive at a very accurate conclusion, because it had gone on rapidly increasing. Three years ago the ordinary expenditure amounted to £1,000,000, and he had very little doubt that it had increased now to probably £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 a-year; and in addition to the charges borne on the ordinary Estimates, Parliament was now called upon to vote a Supplementary Charge which, as he had said, would bring up the Supplementary Votes for this Service to £4,500,000. He wished to know whether Her Majesty's Government had any reasonable expectation of obtaining from the South African Colonies any considerable portion of those charges? In the last Session of Parliament he brought the question under the notice of the House, and he received from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, very positive assurances that strong representations had already been made to the Colonial Government, and that Her Majesty's Government intended to obtain from the Colonial Government a considerable portion of the charges to which this country had been put in consequence of the South African War. So far as he had been able to see, the pressure upon the Colonial Government had not been very strong, and so far as the House was concerned, hon. Members were entirely ignorant as to what the Government had a right to demand. That was not at all a satisfactory position for the House to occupy. He did not know whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget Speech intended 761 to give them any information as to the amount of money they might expect to obtain from the South African Colonies. Possibly they might have some information on the point from the right hon. Gentleman to-morrow; but he thought the Committee ought not to vote the large sum of money now asked for without taking an opportunity, which he ventured to take now, of stating that the House and the country were in a very unsatisfactory position in regard to that great expenditure. He believed that, sooner or later, that expenditure would become a charge upon the British taxpayer. He was very much afraid that there was not much prospect of getting any large sum of money from the Colony, and he was also afraid that this sum of money, largo as it was, that they were now voting, would not be the final demand made upon them. Even at the present time the money expended upon these South African Wars was not absolutely known. In point of fact, they had a large number of British troops in the South African Colonies at that moment who would have to be paid for, and there was every reason to believe that Her Majesty's Government had not taken those steps which he thought it was important to take in order to secure this country from being called upon to bear the burdens which were now being thrown upon it. Unless the Secretary to the Treasury was able to give some little information on these matters, he thought the House ought not to be called upon to pass the Vote in entire ignorance of what the Government were doing, and what the amount was they expected to receive in connection with the claim they had upon the South African Colonies.
§ MR. COURTNEY
said, that before the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury rose to reply to the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands), he wished to make one or two observations on this Vote. In the first place, it appeared to him that there was a question of Order involved in the matter. This was a Supplementary Vote of Credit in amplification of a Vote of Credit already passed to meet the expenses of the Zulu War. But in this Supplementary Vote there would be found not only additional expenses in relation to the Zulu War, for which the original Vote of Credit was given, but two sums amounting to £500,000 of money for a 762 separate expenditure in South Africa quite apart from the circumstances which led to the original Vote connected with the services for quelling the rebellion in Griqualand West. Surely that had nothing to do with the war in South Africa, for which the original Vote of Credit was granted. He submitted, as a matter of Order, that the Supplementary Vote ought to be kept entirely separate and distinct from any new source of expenditure. It was of the utmost importance that the expenditure in connection with the different wars should be kept separate. Then again, the Vote not only included charges for the War in Griqualand West, but also for the occupation of the Transvaal and the Expedition against Secocoeni. The House ought, ho thought, to have fuller details as to how the expenditure was distributed among these different items—the Griqualand War, the occupation of the Transvaal, the Expedition against Secocoeni, and the Zulu War. More details were certainly necessary, because there had already been not only a Supplementary Vote of Credit, but a Supplementary Estimate of £200,000 in addition to the sum charged in the Army Estimates in connection with the Expedition against Secocoeni. These were, undoubtedly, matters that required explanation, although it was not necessary or desirable at that stage that the House should enter into any critical examination of the policy of their action in the Transvaal or of the Expedition against Secocoeni. The Secretary to the Treasury could not be expected to explain that policy; but, at the same time, it was the duty of the Committee to insist upon having a more detailed explanation of the reason why these totally distinct sources of Expenditure were mixed up together, and why, under cover of an old Vote of Credit, they had now a Supplementary Vote which included entirely new and separate charges.
said, it would, perhaps be as well that he should reply to the point of Order which had been raised by the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney). He might state to the Committee that, no doubt, the practice in presenting the Estimates to the House was to take each of them separately; but he was not aware of any Rule of the House which prevented these Estimates 763 from being presented together collectively, notwithstanding that the usual practice was to submit them as separate Estimates. If the items to which attention had been called were entirely extraneous matter, the Committee would be entitled to have them presented separately, under the head of Supplementary Estimates for South Africa. However, as they all related to South Africa, it did not appear to him that it was a breach of Order to include them in one Vote.
§ LORD FREDERICK CAVENDISH
was of opinion that the course now adopted, if not absolutely out of Order, was exceedingly inconvenient. No one could have any doubt that it would be much more convenient if Parliament were informed in a more regular manner what amount of money was to be devoted to the expense of each of these wars. He did not suppose anyone could conceive that there was such a close connection between the occupation of the Transvaal and the Expedition against Secocoeni and the Zulu War as to make it desirable that the expenditure should be mixed up in this manner. He scarcely thought the Secretary to the Treasury would say that the Expedition against Secocoeni and the occupation of the Transvaal were the same thing as the Zulu War; therefore, it was desirable that the charges for each should be kept distinct and separate.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
submitted that there were four distinct operations included in these Estimates—namely, the War in Griqualand West, which, he believed, occurred before the Zulu War; then the Zulu War; next, the occupation of the Transvaal; and lastly, the Expedition against Secocoeni. The House had a right to ask for a separate Vote for each, with a full and detailed account of the expenditure. It was, he thought, impossible to expect that the small sum included in the Vote for these operations against Secocoeni could possibly be sufficient; and, therefore, each transaction should be separated. The best way would be to vote the sums separately, with separate and distinct amounts in each Vote—to grant the money for Griqualand in one Vote, for the Zulu War in another, for the Transvaal in another, and for the Expedition against Secocoeni in another. He could not understand how, when the expendi- 764 ture for these distinct services came to be examined by the Auditor General, it exhibited that for each, when lumped together as if all the money now asked for related to one operation. He had always complained of that mode, so frequently practised, of lumping together under one head the expenditure voted for distinct services; and he had endeavoured on more than one occasion to point out the defective manner in which the Government asked for money from the House of Commons. When they prepared their Estimates for questionable purposes, instead of explaining each item in detail, the Government invariably arranged so that the Auditor General should put it altogether, in as brief a form as practicable, often as one mass, so that it became impossible for the House to distinguish what each charge was really for. He did not oppose the voting of this money now. It had, no doubt, been expended, and the Government must have it; but the Committee ought to vote it in separate items—for the War in Griqualand West, the Zulu War, the occupation of the Transvaal, and the Expedition against Secocoeni. The Government would, in that case, be obliged to render an account of the different items expended. One other remark he must make, and that was, that there were great doubts in his mind as to the power or authority of Lord Chelmsford making an advance of £200,000 for operations in Griqualand with which he had no concern.
said, he understood the hon. and gallant Gentleman to ask whether the sums should not be put separately? They could be put separately, if the Government thought proper to withdraw the present Vote and submit each item separately.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
could assure the hon. Member for Burnley that, had he known in reality that his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer was prepared to give an explanation of this Vote in his Budget Statement to-morrow, he would not have been justified in forestalling the statement which his right hon. Friend proposed to make on that occasion. Attention had been called to the fact that a separate sum appeared in the Vote for the war in Griqualand West which ought to have appeared in a separate Estimate. He could only say that the 765 first intention was to produce it as a I separate Estimate. He did not know how it came to be altered; but it certainly had been altered before it came down to the House. It was a separate item and a separate sum, and it had been included in the present Vote by an unintentional mistake on the part of the printers. The mistake was, however, discovered too late to allow of its being altered; and it was considered by those who had the preparation of the Estimates, that as all these sums had, after great trouble and only very recently, been ascertained as sums which should be entirely credited to the service of the particular year they were now dealing with, it was thought advisable that the whole of them should be included in one Supplementary Estimate, seeing that they all related to transactions in South Africa. It was only after certain officers had been sent out for the investigation of the accounts in South Africa that the Government had been able to arrive at something like a knowledge of the expenditure. The sums seemed to be fairly charged, although they were for occurrences in different parts of South Africa, and they had been brought into this one Account. In regard to the question put by the hon. Member for Burnley, whether the Government were disposed to adhere to what they had already foreshadowed in making a demand upon the Colonial Government for some return of the expenditure in South Africa which had already been incurred, he believed his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be able to satisfy the House upon that point to-morrow. The intention was not to allow the Colonial Government to escape without contributing to the expenditure, but to adhere to the original determination. Of course, it would be extremely difficult to make arrangements definitely until the whole business was concluded; but that they were in progress, and that there was a certain hope, or rather an absolute certainty, of this country receiving some considerable portion of the expenditure from the Colonies he thought he might fairly say. Under these circumstances, he hoped the Committee would be satisfied to allow any further information to be deferred until the Statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which would be made tomorrow. He believed that that State- 766 ment would be entirely satisfactory to the House.
§ MR. COURTNEY
said, the Secretary to the Treasury had really omitted to notice what was really the most important point raised in the discussion, and that was, that they were putting into the Supplementary Vote of Credit four different springs of expenditure which were really separate from each other. He admitted that the same policy underlaid all this expenditure; but they were as distinct and separate branches of expenditure as the Cyprus occupation and an expedition to Egypt and Constinople, or a war in Burmah and a war in Afghanistan. "South Africa" was a large geographical expression, and although he believed that the same policy had produced all these wars, they were totally distinct and separate wars, and, as a matter of finance, ought to be brought before the House separately and with separate explanations. This was especially the case when they were dealing with a Supplementary Vote, which was a continuation of an original Vote confined to the war in Zululand. The present Vote introduced the war in Griqualand West, and two other matters—the occupation of the Transvaal and the Expedition against Secocoeni—two widely different matters. He thought there ought to be a separate statement in respect to each of these items, and they ought to have been introduced separately. He would strongly recommend the Secretary to the Treasury to withdraw the Vote, and to put separate Votes before the Committee.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
wished to add a few words to the statement which had been made by the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney). He believed that the expenditure in connection with the war in Griqualand West was incurred in 1878–9—in a year quite distinct from the Zulu War. The Transvaal expenditure was incurred partly in 1878–9 and partly in 1879–80, the main part having been in 1878–9; but the expenditure in connection with the Expedition against Secocoeni was incurred entirely in the year 1879–80, and the expenditure for the Zulu War was also incurred in 1879–80. Thus, they were dealing with entirely different dates as well as with entirely different operations, and all he asked the Secretary to the Treasury was to 767 arrange that the Estimates for money should appear in a proper manner, divided into dates, and for the distinct services. He had no doubt that the House would grant the Vote, because the money must be paid, and the sooner the Exchequer got it the better accounting would follow; but the House ought not to sanction this loose method of mixing up the expenditure for different purposes and for different periods.
§ SIR HENRY HOLLAND
wished to point out, in reference to the observations which had been made by the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney), that the operations against Secocoeni and the occupation of the Transvaal were not by any means as disconnected as appeared to be supposed. Secocoeni had invaded the Transvaal and defeated the Boers, and for that reason, and because they believed that the disturbances would injure their interests and excite the Natives in their own Colonies they occupied the Transvaal. After they had occupied the Transvaal, finding that Secocoeni did not yield to their remonstrances, they made an expedition against him, so that the two operations were, in point of fact, very closely connected.
§ MR. W. HOLMS
asked, whether any portion whatever of the expenditure upon South Africa had already been paid by the Colonies?
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
inquired, whether any portion of the item of £903,000, connected with the Army Services, belonged to any of these other operations, or was wholly required for the Zulu War—the Expedition against Cetewayo?
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
said the item of £903,000 for the Army was mainly on account of the Zulu War. [Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: Not entirely.] He was unable to answer whether it was entirely or not. He believed it was mainly on that account. He might add that there was much force in what the hon. Member for Liskeard said as to the propriety of submitting these items under separate heads. But he trusted the Committee would consent to pass the Vote in the form in which it now appeared; and, to-morrow, his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer would fully explain all the circumstances attending the expenditure. It was the object of the Treasury, as far as possible, when 768 the expenditure of money was brought to their knowledge, to have it brought to account within the financial year. Therefore, if they were to postpone any part of the Vote, there might be some difficulty in bringing it forward again so as to bring it in the account for the year. He therefore hoped that on this occasion the Committee would allow the Vote to pass in the form in which it had been introduced. He was quite certain that his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer would deal with the question when he came to submit his Financial Statement to-morrow. At the present moment, if the Vote were not passed now, there would be some difficulty in bringing the expenditure into the account in which it really ought to appear.
§ MR. DILLWYN
said, the explanation which had been given would not appear upon the Reports of the House; and it was very important that all these Estimates should be brought before the House and duly recorded in proper form. It was frequently charged against them that they did not attend quite enough to the order and regularity of their proceedings. He would suggest to the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury that he should respond to the appeal of the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney), and withdraw the Vote for a couple of days. It need only be delayed for a day or two. The Committee had no wish to delay the Government Business, or to obstruct; but they wished to have the Estimates, constantly increasing as they were, brought before them in a proper shape, so that they could be recorded on the Books of the House in a manner which would explain the purpose for which they were brought forward, and why they were wanted. It was manifestly wrong to lump them together. If they passed the Vote in the form in which it now appeared, the explanation which had been given by the Secretary to the Treasury would not be known, and the public would only see the confusion that had occurred. He did not think there would be any objection to the delay of a couple of days.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
thought the best course he could take would be to lay an explanation on the Table at once, defining what the separate items of the Vote were for, as had been suggested. The hon. Member for Swansea (Mr.Dillwyn) said there would really be a 769 delay for a few days; but the hon. Member knew very well that at this moment, and at this period of the Session, a delay in Ways and Means practically meant a continuance of the Session for two or three days longer than the day fixed for its final Sitting. It was only because the Government were so pressed for time that he had been induced to make a suggestion to the Committee, which, under ordinary circumstances, he would not have made. He would endeavour to place on the Records of the House the facts mentioned by the hon. Member for Swansea; but that might be done without doing that which would practically delay them for a time, even if not fatally, in getting this Vote in the present year.
§ LORD FREDERICK CAVENDISH
asked the Secretary to the Treasury if it was absolutely necessary to take the Vote that day? His belief was that this Vote would not finish the Supplementary Estimates. To-morrow they would have to take a Vote for Excess in the Expenditure of the past year; and there was no reason why the Vote should not also be brought on to-morrow. With respect to the arrangements of the Secretary to the Treasury to lay on the Table a Schedule explaining the Expenditure in more detail, he did not think that arrangement would provide what was wished for. When they came to the Appropriation Bill, which they must sooner or later, it would be impossible to take into consideration any Schedule of that nature if the entire sum expended upon these four Services was not exceeded. If the sums now asked for were taken, as they clearly ought to be, as four different Votes, it would be impossible to exceed the sum included in any one of the Services without coming to Parliament again. He asked the Secretary to the Treasury, again, whether it was absolutely necessary to take the Vote to-day, and whether, if it were taken to-morrow, it would be in plenty of time?
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
thought there could be no objection on the part of the Secretary to the Treasury to postpone the consideration of the Vote, if they were to understand that there were other Votes to be introduced to-morrow. If that were so, there would not be the delay of a single day in postponing the Vote until to morrow. Was that the fact? As the Secretary to the Treasury 770 did not rise, he presumed that the statement was correct; and he would, therefore, move that the debate be now adjourned, in order that the Vote might be introduced in a different form to-morrow. Perhaps the most regular course would be to move that the Chairman report Progress, and ask leave to sit again.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Sir Charles W. Dilke.)
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, there was one point which added much force to the argument which had been used in favour of having this Vote placed in separate items. He wished to point out to the Committee that sub-head "D" was one of a very remarkable character. It was in aid of the expenditure in suppressing the rebellion in Griqualand West. It was quite clear that if that Vote had come before the House in its proper form, and at its proper time, it would have afforded the House an opportunity of discussing the policy which led to that particular war. But it now appeared that the money was paid out of the Treasury Chest by Lord Chelmsford, and the House of Commons had had no special knowledge of the expenditure. It came before the House now in a general Vote of Credit, because the Auditor General refused to pass it, and the Treasury had now come to the conclusion that it was not right to charge it against the Vote of Credit for 1878–9. He thought they would be setting a bad precedent if they allowed a Vote to be passed under such circumstances without having it fully explained.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
said, that if it was the general wish of the Committee to adjourn the consideration of the Vote until to-morrow he would not object; but he hoped it would be on the distinct understanding that the Committee would pass the Vote when it came before them to-morrow, because it would be very disadvantageous to the Treasury to have any further delay. Therefore, he trusted that if he withdrew the Vote now the Committee would consider it to-morrow with the view of passing it.
§ MR. RYLANDS
presumed that the Votes would be put upon the Table tomorrow in a distinct form. He had no objection to the Vote being passed; but 771 when it was again placed on the Table it should be under separate and distinct heads. "D" and "E" should be special Votes, and should not come under the general head of operations in South Africa. If the hon. Gentleman would agree to lay these Supplementary Estimates on the Table in this form, he (Mr. Rylands) believed there would be no objection to their being passed. Of course, it would be necessary to include the dates when the expenditure was incurred.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
said, he would endeavour, as far as possible, to meet the views of the Committee; but the time was short, and he might not be able to do so in every respect. He would certainly do all he could to meet the views of the Committee.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.