HC Deb 05 April 1887 vol 313 cc506-8
MR. MASON (Lanark, Mid)

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, with reference to the following statement made by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), in an address to his constituents on Saturday:— I had to deal with an estimate which was presented by the War Office, amounting to over half a million of money for expenditure incurred in connection with the defence of the Egyptian Frontier. That expenditure had been incurred without the knowledge of the War Office, without the knowledge of the Treasury, without the sanction of Parliament, and I utterly declined to have anything whatever to do with it, or to admit it in any way. …. Well, in comes my successor, who, the moment this estimate was presented to him, took just the same view as I did, exactly.…. Consequently, the Government have never presented that Estimate to the House of Commons; whether the Government have repudiated their liability to pay this Estimate; whether they have called upon the Egyptian Government to pay the money; and, whether it has been paid; and, if so, by whom?

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

A preliminary Estimate or statement of claim made by the Egyptian Government for upwards of £500,000 had been under the consideration of the Treasury and the War Office for expenditure incurred in connection with the defence of the Egyptian Frontier. The late Chancellor of the Exchequer (Lord Randolph Churchill) objected strongly to admitting any liability on the part of this country for such expenditure; and I may say for myself, as Secretary of State for War, that I never admitted that liability, but finally, as my noble Friend has stated, he gave way on the point; but I may remark that the Report of General Stephenson on these claims only left Cairo on December 22. When the present Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) came into Office, the Government once more carefully considered the matter, and came to the conclusion that there was only a portion of this expenditure which had been incurred with the authority of the Representatives of England in Egypt, and for which this country could fairly be held liable. In respect of that portion, th9 Egyptian Government has been reimbursed by the remission of the Capitation Grant of £200,000, payable by Egypt to England, for the year 1886–7, and Votes for this amount have, as the hon. Member will recollect, been recently agreed to by this House. For the remainder of the £500,000 the English Government has declined any liability, with the exception of the Vote for the garrison at Suakin. In answer to the latter part of the hon. Member's Question, I may say that the English Government has not called upon the Egyptian Government to pay this sum, as the money had already been paid out of the funds at the disposal of the Egyptian Government. With regard to the Question of my noble Friend the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, I have to say that the reduction in the Supplementary Estimates did amount to £500,000, as he stated. Of that amount some £200,000 was due to the reduction in the amount of the deficiency estimated in December on ordinary War Department Votes for the year, which it was found could be effected in the interval between December and March.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

Where is this English Government that the right hon. Gentleman has spoken of?


I am not aware of the object of the hon. Member's Question. The English Government is in England, and the Egyptian Government is in Egypt.


It is the British Government, and not the English Government.

MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

Will the right hon. Gentleman state whether any of the reductions were due to causes independent of those which led to the retirement of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington?

[No reply.]