§ SIR JULIAN GOLDSMID (St. Paneras, S.)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he has considered the proposal to refer the various Classes of Estimates to Grand Committees specially appointed to consider each Class, with a view to careful examination by such Committees, instead of the desultory discussion in Committee of the whole House?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I concur in the view of the hon. Baronet, which I understand to be implied by his question, that the working of the existing system of the consideration of Estimates by Committee of the whole House is unsatisfactory. There is an absence of all proportion in dealing with the questions involved in the Votes, and there can be little doubt that a remedy is very urgently called for; but I have not yet perceived any indication of a willingness on the part of the House to delegate this portion of its duties to a Standing Committee in such a fashion as to deprive Members in the House of the power of raising questions on every item of every Vote. It will be obvious to the hon. Baronet that no Government could with advantage propose a vital change in practice without a very general consensus of opinion on such an important matter, and any changes that may be made must secure that the authority and responsibility of the House of Commons with regard to the expenditure of public money shall remain unimpaired.