HC Deb 23 February 1882 vol 266 cc1484-8

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £20,800, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1882, for the Expenses of Her Majesty's Embassies and Missions Abroad.


noticed that this Vote included a sum of £9,260 To meet certain outfits payable in the transfer of Lord Dufferin to Constantinople, the promotion of Sir E. Thornton to St. Petersburg-, and the retirement of the Hon. E. M. Erskine and other changes consequent thereon. It was one of the absurdities of the Foreign Office that new outfits were to be provided for Ministers whenever they went from one place to another. He did not wish to divide the Committee on the subject, but would take some other opportunity of doing so. There was, however, another matter upon which he was afraid he would have to ask hon. Gentlemen to go through the Lobby. He begged to move that the Vote be reduced by the sum of £2,700, which represented the expenses of the Marquess of Northampton's special Mission to Madrid, including the expenses of the Garter King, and the Earl of Fife's special Mission to Dresden, including the expenses of the Garter King. He could say a good deal upon this subject; but on account of the lateness of the hour he would simply point out that at Madrid they had a special Minister, and at Dresden they had a Chargé d' Affaires, and surely those gentlemen could have handed over the Garters to those distinguished persons who were honoured with them. He knew it was a very old custom to send Garters through a special Mission; but what did it amount to? It meant that a nobleman amused himself on the Continent at the expense of the public with the Garter King and other gentlemen of that sort. The nobleman did not get any benefit by the Mission, unless it was that he had his trip free of cost, and that he got some Order of the country granted to him. He (Mr. Labouchere) did not object to that; but what he did object to was the most expensive mode of sending a Garter by a special Mission, particularly when they had in the same country an Embassy costing £4,000, £5,000, or £6,000 a-year. They had an Ambassador of some importance certainly in Spain if not in Dresden; and surely that gentleman would be able to hand over, with all necessary ceremony, the Garter to the Monarch of that country.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £18,160, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March l882, for the Expenses of Her Majesty's Embassies and Missions Abroad."—(Mr. Labouchere.)


said, he thought it would be well if the Vote were postponed, because many important questions were involved.


said, he was not inclined to take exception to the Vote on the same ground as the hon. Member for Northampton, because he considered that when a special Mission went from this country as much pomp and ceremony should be used as possible; and he, for one, believed that these Missions were the means of much good. Perhaps the hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench would answer a question with respect to the additional outfits to Lord Dufferin. He thought he was right in saying that, so far as India was concerned, exceptional sums for outfits had been done away with. Having regard to the fact that the Viceroy of India got nothing for his outfit, it seemed rather extraordinary that Lord Dufferin should get an outfit upon his transfer to Constantinople. He would like to know what explanation could be given in the matter; and he would also like an explanation of the expenditure of £2,000 "consequent on the state of affairs on the Continent." That seemed a large sum to spend in telegrams, especially as there seemed nothing exceptional in the state of our foreign relations with other nations on the Continent.


said, he thought that if special Missions were to go they ought to be organized in a manner worthy of the country. But then the question was whether they ought to go at all, and on that point he was disposed to agree with the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere). There were some other items in the Vote requiring explanation. For instance, £2,000 was provided for the expenses of the Commission for the evacuation of territory ceded by Turkey to Greece under the Constantinople Convention of 1881. Greece had acquired considerable territory, and it seemed hard this country should have to pay £2,000 for the purposes of that accession. Then, again, there was a charge of £3,000 for the expenses of the Greek Boundary Commission. As the Commission was entirely in the interest of Greece, it did not seem right that we should have to pay this sum of money. Under these circumstances, and in the absence of the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, he put it to the Government whether it would not be better to postpone the Vote. The questions he had raised were questions on which it was desirable the Committee should have full explanation.


sad, it was evident the Vote would provoke a good deal of discussion, and therefore he would consent to its postponement.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

(28.) £5,526, Subsidies to Telegraph Companies.

(29.) £9,333, Treasury Chest.


said, he wished to know, before this Vote was put, whether the Financial Secretary to the Treasury could tell him how the allowances for military officers in Hong Kong were paid. Were they paid or calculated in dollars or pounds sterling; and had any intimation been given to the Treasury of the injury inflicted on the officers by the system adopted?


wished to know the amount of the transactions in 1881, when such large losses were incurred.


said, he was unable to state the particulars asked for; but he hoped to be in a position to do so before the Report. The loss on the dollars themselves had to be defrayed from profit and loss. It had been occasioned by the necessity of sending out large sums to South Africa.


failed to understand why the Government had sent out dollars. Surely there were much cheaper means of sending out money.


asked why the figures were not given for this year?


said, that these transactions sometimes entailed a profit and sometimes a loss. It was not desirable to take an account of them before they were completed. The amounts now given represented the losses incurred in 1880 and 1881, not in the present year.

Vote agreed to.