(10.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £2,725, 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 Expenses incurred in connection with
the Funeral of His late Royal Highness the Duke of Albany.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he wished to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £2,300. For obvious reasons, his observations would be very short in connection with the Vote; but he could not help thinking that those who had advised Her Majesty to make this proposal for a Vote had made a great mistake. He did not believe that Her Majesty or any Member of the Royal Family would have made this proposal on their own account. He proposed to ask the Committee to reduce the Vote by £2,300. The Vote was divided into two portions—one was a grant in aid of the expenses of the Lord Chamberlain's Department; the other was a grant in aid of the expenses of the Office of Works and the Admiralty. The latter expenses were, as he understood, for the official preparations for the ceremony; but as to the former, he found, by a Return which had been obtained by the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) relating to expenditure upon Royal Palaces, that a clear distinction was made between expenses incurred by the Office of Works and by the Lord Chamberlain's Office, it being distinctly laid down, by a Treasury Minute, that all moneys expended by the Lord Chamberlain's Department should be defrayed out of the Civil List. It was provided that the Civil List should bear all the expenses of Palaces not in the occupation of Her Majesty, while the Office of Works should bear the expenses of those which were in the occupation of Her Majesty. The Treasury Minute to which he had referred was issued in 1838, and his contention was that the charges of the Lord Chamberlain's Department should be borne by the Civil List in accordance with that Minute. The Civil List was discussed when Her Majesty came to the Throne, and it was considered ample. It was not a question of the difficulty of finding this sum, for it was comparatively small; but nothing, he believed, did more harm to Royalty in this country than these perpetual demands for small extravagances. The money was not much; but there was a strong feeling about this subject in the country, and those who advised Her Majesty to make this demand had done exceedingly bad service to the Royal Family. He begged to move the 229 reduction of the Vote by £2,300, and he would ask for some explanation of the Vote by the Secretary to the Treasury.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £425, 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 Expenses incurred in connection with the Funeral of His late Royal Highness the Duke of Albany."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ MR. COURTNEY
said, that he had not thought it necessary to explain this Vote, inasmuch as it only differed from previous Votes in matter of form. Such Votes had usually been included in the general Vote for Civil Contingencies, and this Vote only differed in this respect—that it was placed by itself for consideration. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) had asked for precedents. Well, he had in his hand a series of precedents extending from the year 1845 to the year 1862. In 1845, on the occasion of the death of the Princess Sophia Matilda, a Vote of £3,000 was granted for funeral expenses. In 1849 another grant was given in connection with the funeral expenses of another Princess; and in 1852 there was a Vote of £2,800 for the funeral expenses of the Queen Dowager Adelaide. In the same year there was another grant of £1,200 for funeral expenses of a Member of the Royal Family; and in 1858, on the occasion of the funeral of the Duke of Gloucester, there was a Vote of £1,700; while in 1862, on the occasion of the funeral of the Duchess of Kent, there was a Vote of £5,367. Therefore, it would be seen that there was a continuous series of precedents, entirely in agreement with the present Vote. If there were any distinction in regard to this Vote, it was, as he had said, particularly one of form; and if there was any distinction as to substance it was this—that, on the present occasion, the Government did not apply for the whole of the expenses, but only for a grant in aid. Therefore, any distinction there might be was in the direction of economy, and hon. Members would see that the amount was not abnormally high as compared with previous occasions.
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
said, he thought the only real objection to the Vote was that which had been mentioned 230 by the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury—namely, that the Vote was different from others in form. This was absolutely the first time in this century that a Vote of this character had been asked for in the form of a grant in aid. With regard to this grant in aid of the Lord Chamberlain's Department, he wished to point out that that Department was not subject to any public audit, and was not represented in that House, and its expenditure had not been submitted to the Treasury. This was an absolute exception to the rule which had been always followed in other cases of this kind, the whole expenditure of the Department in reference to funerals having hitherto been submitted to the Treasury. Now, for the first time in this century, Parliament was asked to make a grant in aid of a Department not subject to any public audit. That, he thought, was a point of considerable importance, and he should have been glad if the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury had paid some attention to it. While he should not have the slightest objection to vote these expenses, at the same time it was a serious consideration whether Parliament should consent to such an absolute departure from the established rule in these matters, and should sanction a grant in aid with regard to expenses which, so far as the Committee were aware, might never have been incurred. These were matters which, he respectfully submitted, were of some importance.
said, he could not understand the objection taken to the Vote. If it had been the practice on former occasions for the public to be called upon to pay a portion of the expenses of Royal funerals, while Her Majesty paid the other portion, and the Government were now introducing a change by asking Parliament to defray the whole of the expenses, he could understand that the jealousy of Parliament might be aroused at the imposition of a new charge on the public; but this was a case in which, as the Secretary to the Treasury had explained, there was a diminished charge moved. So far, surely, the public had reason to acknowledge the gracious action of the Sovereign, in relieving them of some of the previous burdens. Another objection to the Vote taken by the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold) was that this was 231 a grant in aid which was not subject to public audit. It was true that the expenditure of the Civil List was not subjected to a public audit generally. It was not subjected to general public audit, because there was a special auditor to audit the Civil List; and that officer was, almost by the necessity of the case, one of the highest and most important persons in the Department of the Treasury—a man who, from his habits of mind and disposition, as well as from his high character, they might always rely upon it, would have a genuine and thorough audit. Therefore, he hoped the hon. Gentleman would see that upon both points, and especially on the latter, there was reason for confidence, while on the form of the Vote there was reason for satisfaction.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 23; Noes 69: Majority 46.—(Div. List, No. 213.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER (LORD MAYOR)
said, in reply to the statement of the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold), who had stated that the Lord Chamberlain was not represented in the House of Commons, that he was certainly under the impression that he was represented there by the noble Lord the Member for Marlborough (Lord Charles Bruce). Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would justify the remark he had made.
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
said, there could be no doubt that the financial concerns of the Lord Chamberlain's Department were not represented in that House. The remark had fallen from the Prime Minister that, although it was quite true that the expenditure of the Civil List was not subject to the audit of the Auditor General, it did not follow that it was not subject to public audit. With all deference to the right hon. Gentleman, he considered that he was correct in saying there was no system of public audit. The Civil List was audited by Sir Reginald Welby, but with no reference whatever to the House of Commons.
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER (LORD MAYOR)
said, that the statement of the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold) was that the Lord Chamberlain was not represented in that House; and he (Mr. R. N. Fowler) had shown that the Lord 232 Chamberlain was represented by a most respected Member of the House. He considered that the hon. Member had not justified his statement, and, at the same time, regretted that he should have thought it necessary to make it.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he should be glad to know whether or not the Department had a financial Representative in that House; because, if so, he should have some questions to put to him.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.