HC Deb 14 March 1889 vol 333 cc1669-72
MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)

I wish to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty with reference to the business of this evening, whether he proposes to take that part of the Estimates which has reference to shipbuilding; and whether he will take Votes as to which we have been promised but have not yet received details?


I am much obliged to my right hon. Friend for putting the question. It is not our fault that the details have not been issued for they have been a long time in the hands of the printers. It would I think be convenient to confine the discussion to-night on the Votes which have no connection with shipbuilding or dockyard administration.

MR. H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton)

I wish to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether there is any legal necessity that the Vote on Account of the Civil Service should be included in the Money Bill which must be passed before March 31?


The right hon. Gentleman's experience at the Treasury has no doubt informed him that it is necessary in order to comply with the law that the Supplementary Estimates and the Vote for the pay of the Army and Navy should be included in a Money Bill, which must receive the Royal Assent in sufficient time to allow of issues to be made from the Exchequer before the end of the current financial year; but his question suggests that the same absolute legal necessity does not extend to the Vote on Account for Civil Services, and that issues may be made from the Exchequer for those services before they are authorized by statute. There is precedent for not including in the March Money Bill, Ways and Means voted in respect of Civil Votes on Account. I am doubtful as to the strict legality of that course; but if it be not unlawful it is certainly not in accordance with the financial regularity which it is the duty of the Government to observe, if it is at all possible to do so.

DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)

The right hon. Gentleman stated yesterday that the Civil Service Supplementary Estimates are not to be gone into to-night. I see they had been put down on the Paper. Does the right hon. Gentleman intend to adhere to the arrangement?


I think I said last night that I did not propose to take Civil Service Supplementary Estimates after 12 o'clock to-night. The last day on which they can be taken, unless the time of private Members is encroached upon, is Monday next. I believe it is the desire of right hon. Gentlemen opposite that the debate on the Vote on Account should be taken on Monday. Under these circumstances I hope the Supplementary Estimates will be agreed to to-night, in order that it will not be necessary for us to make any proposal to the House for further facilities.


Might I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he did not most distinctly say yesterday he would not take them, and is it fair, now that hon. Members have made their arrangements accordingly, that we should have sprung upon us a very important debate?

MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)

Would not the best way out of the difficulty be to withdraw the remainder of the Vote to Sheriff Ivory?


It is not in our power to do that. The Supplementary Estimate is asked for expenses incurred, and we must take the judgment of the House on it. I have endeavoured to be frank with the hon. Gentleman. I have explained the circumstances in which we are placed, and if the hon. Gentleman is of opinion, that, instead of meeting for an hour or half an hour after 12 o'clock, it is better that the time of private Members should be taken, that course can be taken. But then the responsibility will rest with him.


I beg to ask whether, supposing an hon. Member moved to report Progress after 12 o'clock, if the Naval Estimates had been taken before 12, the right hon. Gentleman will assent to the Motion.


I am compelled to take this course by the exigencies of the public service. It has been considered better that the House should sit for half-an-hour after 12 than encroach upon the time of private Members.


If any hon. Member moves to report Progress after 12 o'clock in the event of the Navy Estimates having been taken, will the right hon. Gentleman assent to the Motion?


I think it would be undesirable, if the majority desire to go on with public business, that Progress should be reported at the instance of some three orfour Members.


Then I will only ask what becomes of the pledge that was given by the right hon. Gentleman yesterday?


I am adhering to that pledge.