HC Deb 07 August 1884 vol 292 cc225-7

(8.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £5,000, 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 1885, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.


said, he thought the right hon. Baronet the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote) did not pay much attention to the convenience of the House; and he (Mr. Labouchere) thought he had good reason to complain that one day the right hon. Gentleman should come down to the House and say a discussion on the Egyptian policy of the Government was to be taken on Friday, and two days afterwards come down and say he had changed his mind, and that the discussion would take place on Monday, because on the Friday some hon. Members on his side of the House would not be in their places. With what object would these right hon. and hon. Gentlemen, Friends of the right hon. Baronet, be away? Why, with the object of proposing some pernicious doctrine or other in a certain part of the country. He did think that a bargain was a bargain, and that when the Chief of the Opposition solemnly announced that he was going to take an important discussion on a certain day, it was only reasonable that he should abide by his declaration. He (Mr. Labouchere) made these few observations, because he had intended to be present on Friday, when he had understood the debate was to be taken, to hear the speeches which might be offered for and against the Government policy. Although it might be convenient to the supporters of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, to his (Mr. Labouchere's) knowledge, more than one hon. Member on the Ministerial side would be absent, having, through the previous understanding, made other arrangements for Monday.


said, he wished to enter a protest against the item in this Vote for telegraphic expenses, and the practice of always, year after year, making the original Estimates for absolutely the same sums. What had happened this year? Why, the original Estimate was £5,000, and the additional sum now required was another £5,000; whilst under the Diplomatic Vote the item for telegrams was £12,000, and there was £15,000 additional required; so that, under the two Votes, there was a sum of £20,000 required, in addition to the sum of £17,000 originally asked for. He was aware that telegraphic expenses could not be calculated very nicely; but, considering the state of things when these Estimates were drawn up—that was to say, taking into consideration what was going on in Egypt and the Soudan, and the certainty that the Estimates would have to be largely increased—he thought that some better calculation might have been made. There were other places besides Egypt where disturbances were taking place, and where it was known that large additional expense would have to be incurred for telegraphing; and he must protest against this proceeding on the part of the Government as being most unsatisfactory.


said, he could assure the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Henry Holland) that he regretted as much as the hon. Baronet did the necessity for these Supplementary Estimates; but the hon. Member was not quite accurate in his facts as to the reason for the increase. It was only temporary, owing to the Expedition to Egypt. The Foreign Office had hoped that the special causes which rendered so large an expenditure necessary last year would not recur. But in this they had been disappointed, and it was necessary to present this Estimate.


said, he did not think the right hon. Baronet the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote) had any ground for complaint, because, after it had been arranged that this debate should be brought on, that arrangement had been departed from. It was very inconvenient not to be able to discuss this question to-night, because many hon. Members had made arrangements to leave town, and some of them would have been glad of the opportunity, in order that they might congratulate Her Majesty's Government upon two pieces of good fortune this year— namely, the rejection of the Franchise Bill, and the utter collapse of the Conference which had met to consider the Egyptian Question. The debate could not now be taken until Monday, when many hon. Members would be away; but he (Mr. Monk) hoped the Government would show that firmness which, perhaps, they had not hitherto shown on the Egyptian Question now that their hands were once more free, and that they would take such steps as were necessary to secure good government for Egypt—a result that never would have been attained if they had been bound by the Protocols, which seemed to have been suggested rather from a desire to secure the interest of the bondholders than to promote the welfare of Egypt.


ssid, it was most inconvenient to find the debate, which everyone had come to discuss, put off till Monday. They could not help it now; but he wished to ask one question on the matter. About this time last year there was a debate on the Egyptian Question, and it was stated that the English troops were coming back shortly; but they could not come then, because of the cholera. He wished to know why the troops were still kept there?


said, he thought it unnecessary for hon. Members opposite to make abusive observations upon hon. Members on this side for not bringing on an Egyptian debate to-night. If, having their speeches prepared, they wished to bring on a debate to-night they could do so, and they had a perfect right to raise a debate whenever they liked. But it did not lie with them to reproach Members of the Opposition who could choose any opportunity that was open to them on any of the stages of the Appropriation Bill.

Question put, and agreed to.