HC Deb 28 July 1885 vol 300 cc243-4

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether he is aware that much disappointment prevails in the public mind at his declaration that he was not prepared to take any steps towards the appointment, as Permanent Finance Lord, an independent financier, with the view of securing an effectual financial control over our Naval expenditure in the future; whether there be in the terms of the Patent of 1869, under which Boards of Admiralty are now constituted, anything to render illegal the appointment of a Permanent Finance Lord; and, if so, what that objection is; whether it is contemplated that Sir Gerald Fitzgerald, recently appointed Accountant General of the Navy, shall, as the chief of one of eight Departments at the Admiralty, in addition to the multifarious duties already devolving upon Jus present office, be called upon to undertake the onerous and responsible duty of endeavouring to institute and continue effectual financial control over the seven other Admiralty Departments?


I am not aware that there is any wish on the part of the public that an independent and permanent Finance Lord should be added to the Board of Admiralty. On the contrary, with the exception of two articles advocating this proposal, evidently written by the same person, in two weekly papers, I have not read or received a single opinion favourable to such a suggestion. There is no insuperable legal obstacles to the appointment of such an official; but the self-evident objection to the proposal is that if the First Lord of the Admiralty is associated with an independent and permanent Colleague, who is to control the finance of the Navy, this official, and not the Parliamentary Representatives of the Department, will be responsible for the expenditure sanctioned and incurred. The Accountant General of the Navy is at present the only permanent official charged with the duty of checking and controlling the expenditure of all the Departments of the Admiralty, and, if his duties are to be properly performed, it is clear that he must be invested with such authority as will enable him to effectively discharge his duties.