asked the First Lord of the Treasury, "Whether he is aware that Vote 1 of the Navy Estimates was "reported" last year as late as March 21st, and that, during the former Liberal Administration, Vote 1 of the Navy Estimates was "reported" as late in 1873 as March 26th; in 1872, as March 23rd; and in 1871, as March 28th; and that Vote 1 of the Army Estimates was "reported" in 1871 on March 24th; whether the Law on these occasions was broken with his sanction; and, whether any more serious evils will result if the Reports of Vote 1 of the Navy Estimates and Vote 1 of the Army Estimates were taken during the present year as late as in 1871?
I cannot answer to the fullest extent which the form in which it is printed demands the Question of the hon. and learned Member without entering into a detailed exposition of the rules under which this House votes public money with the view to the public security and to the control of Parliament over public money, which would not be appropriate on this occasion. I accept the statements made in the Question of the hon. and learned Member as to matters of fact. I have no doubt that they are accurate. It is perfectly true that in 1881 these Resolutions were not reported until the 21st of March; whereas Monday next is only the 20th of March. That is a difference which I will not dwell upon. The hon. and learned Member will see that it is more than explained by the absence of Her Majesty on the Continent. The time will be consumed in communicating with Her Majesty by telegraph, and in the transmission by messenger of the Royal signature necessary to complete the passing of an Act. As to the other years referred to in the hon. and learned Gentleman's Question, I accept the statement of the hon. and learned Member in reference to them. But when the hon. and learned Member asks me whether the law was broken on those occasions with my sanction, I have to reply that it was not broken with my sanction, for the simple reason that it 891 was not broken at all. On those occasions there was no breach of the law or irregularity in any sense whatever; because before the Navy Votes were taken other Votes had been taken, and a Ways and Means Bill was in progress through the House, so that it could receive the Royal Assent before the close of the financial year, and likewise certain Votes necessary for the Public Service were in a position to be reported before the close of the financial year. There is no inconsistency between the precedents cited by the hon. and learned Member, and the statement I made last night; because at the present time there is no Ways and Means Bill in progress through the House which could receive the Royal Assent before the close of the financial year. The third Question of the hon. and learned Member I believe is disposed of by my answers to the former Questions.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
Might I ask the right hon. Gentleman if the Government were aware of the approaching departure of Her Gracious Majesty for the Continent when they invited the House to deal with other matters than the Estimates three weeks ago?
Her Majesty makes her own arrangements with regard to the times of her departure, and gives us adequate information with regard to them when we ask it. I do not think I am called on to give any further answer.