HC Deb 05 April 1887 vol 313 cc495-6

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether his attention has been called to the speech of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington, delivered at the Metropolitan Music Hall, in which he referred to certain reductions in the War and Admiralty Estimates; in respect of what items the reductions of £170,000 and £500,000 in the War Office Estimates were made; and, whether such reductions, or either of them, notwithstanding his objections thereto, were made in consequence of the action of the noble Lord, or from any other cause?

THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. E. STANHOPE) (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)

In the speech of my noble Friend the Member for South Padding-ton, which, of course, we have all read, he refers to the two sums mentioned by the hon. Member. One of £500,000 was in respect of certain claims of the Egyptian Government for the cost of the Egyptian Army; and if the hon. Member had followed the debates on the subject this Session, he would have observed that a final settlement was recently arrived at with the Egyptian Government, one of the terms of which was that the contribution of £200,000 payable in 1886–7 for the cost of the English Army of Occupation was remitted. The necessary Votes were accordingly taken in the Supplementary Estimates of last year. As regards the sum of £170,000, it is the fact that the Estimates framed by my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Treasury, then Secretary of State for War, and submitted to my noble Friend in December last, exceeded by about that sum the final Estimates framed by me at the end of February. Several Votes were altered in amount, according as the needs of the Public Service for the present year became more fully ascertained and settled. Our further experience enabled us to reckon on a lower price of provisions than could have been estimated in December; and we were fortunate enough to receive a windfall in the shape of increased appropriations in aid. So far as I am concerned, I shall cordially welcome the assistance of my noble Friend the Member for South Paddington, in or out of Office, in reducing any items of expenditure which can be shown to be unnecessary or excessive.


I would beg to ask my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War, in order to clear up that question of £500,000 stated in the Question, which is somewhat illusory as it appears on the Paper, Whether it is not the case that the £200,000 remitted to Egypt, to which he alludes, was included in the Supplementary Estimate of the War Office of £450,000 odd voted by Parliament, and presented to Parliament; and, whether the additional sum of £559,000, which had been claimed by the Egyptian Government, and which had been agreed to by the Treasury, the War Office, and the Foreign Office, before I left the Government, had not since been disagreed to by Her Majesty's Government; and, whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not state on the 9th of March, in this House, that since he came into Office, the Egyptian claims had been reduced by more than £500,000?

THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)

(who replied) said: This is a rather complicated Question. I think it will be better that I should reply to it in connection with a Question of a similar nature standing in the name of the hon. Member for Mid Lanark (Mr. Mason). I think I shall be able then to answer the Question of my noble Friend.

MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

inquired of the Secretary of State for War, Whether he meant that the reduction in the Estimates was due to the fuller ascertainment of the needs of the Public Services, and not to the action of the noble Lord?

[No reply.]