HC Deb 01 February 1897 vol 45 cc1020-5

Resolution reported; That it is expedient to authorise the issue, out of the Consolidated Fund, of any sums not exceeding in the whole £5,458,000, for the expenses of certain Military Works and other Military Services, and to authorise the Treasury to borrow by means of terminable annuities, payable out of moneys to be provided by Parliament for Army Services, and, if those moneys are insufficient, out of the Consolidated Fund, such sums as may be required for the purpose of providing money for the issue of the above-mentioned sum of £5,458,000 out of the Consolidated Fund, or the repayment to that Fund of all or any part of the sum so issued, and also to authorise the application of the Surplus of Income above Expenditure for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1897, towards paying any sums authorised to be issued out of the Consolidated Fund for Military Works.

Resolution Read a Second time.

MR. T. LOUGH (Islington, W.)

hoped the Government would not press this Report that night. If they did he should move the adjournment. There had been but an unsatisfactory discussion in Committee on the subject, the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill not having complete information. There was one subject upon which considerable interest was felt out of doors, and that was in reference to the large sum asked for for the erection of forts on the ranges of hills around London. He did not think the matter ought to be pressed through quite so quickly as this. It was a very extraordinary proposal, and the Government ought to give them fuller information about the matter. Although the amount involved might appear to be small, the business of the fortification of this great metropolis would lead to a large expenditure, and should be carefully looked into. Unless a full and satisfactory explanation was given, he thought it would be desirable to report Progress.


remarked that the hon. Gentleman spoke at some length when this Resolution was before the Committee and when it seemed to be the general desire to get on with the discussion. The point the hon. Member raised had simply reference to the particulars of an expenditure—perhaps the smallest in the Bill: and what he had asked was that the Government should give full information and details as to every site on which it was proposed to mobilise troops. He might say that the Government desired to give the House every possible information in their power, but it would not be possible to designate, for the benefit of the whole world, the precise site on which it was intended, in case of invasion, to mobilise troops. But at the same time he should be perfectly prepared on the proper opportunity—which was on the Second Reading of the Bill—to give the House as full information as he possibly could on any subject that it seemed to be the general wish of the House to go into. As he told the Committee on Friday, the Government proposed to circulate with the Bill a full statement of all the places where it was proposed to reconstruct barracks at a cost of nearly three millions of money. As regarded the question of defence, he thought the hon. Gentleman would see there were limits to the disclosures it was desirable to make. On Friday he endeavoured to be perfectly frank with the Committee; he put before it every class of expenditure, with, as far as possible, details of that expenditure, and he trusted the hon. Member and the House would allow the Report stage to be taken, so that the Bill might be introduced. If hon. Gentlemen would look at the Bill, and select the points on which they desired to concentrate their attention, the Government would endeavour, to the best of their ability, to satisfy every reasonable demand that might be made in the matter.


, whilst supporting the Government on this question, was bound to say that the Under Secretary for War had himself to blame for attention being called to this particular item mentioned by his hon. Friend, for the right hon. Gentleman introduced the matter on this head in a most unfortunate way. This was not a new expenditure for the fortification of London, but was the completion of a policy which had been carried out steadily ever since 1888, and which was almost concluded by the late Government, who finished the more important of the works which were contemplated in this scheme. It had been represented that this was a new departure—


did not think the right hon. Gentleman understood what he said the other night. What he said in the schedule under which this was contained was that the item was of a somewhat novel character, but that there was an exception, which was the item as to the fortification of London, which he then pointed out had been the policy of successive Governments since 1888.


said that, as a matter of fact, anybody who took a walk round all these places on a Saturday afternoon might see them for himself, as the principal ones were finished. It was a strange thing that, as a matter of fact, this policy had never been discussed in that House, although Mr. Stanhope mentioned it in 1888. What was intended was the erection of certain defences for the decentralisation of stores for the use of Volunteers that might be mobilised at Dorking, Boxhill, Guildford and other places. He thought it was a pity that a language of mystery had been used about the matter. He was aware that some hon. and gallant Members opposite, and some hon. Gentlemen who belonged to the Navy, objected to it; but he himself supported it, and should vote in its favour in every division, as he believed it would give a certain amount of confidence to the public and the Press under certain circumstances.

SIR JOHN COLOMB (Great Yarmouth)

deprecated the discussion of what was a very serious matter before they had the Bill in their hands. He strongly opposed that portion of it which dealt with anything like the fortification of London. That was only one item of the Bill, which covered a vast amount of ground and dealt with the most serious questions as to the defence of our Empire.


thought it was very desirable that they should know whether London was being surrounded with fortifications. Nobody could say that that was not the impression conveyed who was in the habit of reading The Times newspaper. The solemn remonstrance given in The Times in regard to the important speech of the Undersecretary for War against the proposal of the fortification of London showed what had been the impression produced by the right hon. Gentleman. If that were a wrong impression, some other time than a quarter past 12 oclock should, he thought, be chosen for explaining it, so that the public could be made to understand that it was an entire delusion which had been disavowed by Her Majesty's Government. He thought it had created almost as much astonishment and amusement as the Bill which was introduced that afternoon. [Laughter.] The Fortification of London Bill and the Government Education Bill were two Bills which had taken the public entirely by surprise. [Ministerial cries of "Oh!" and laughter.] The country should have the opportunity of inquiring into both Measures. He hoped the Government would, at all events, say whether they were going to erect fortifications round London, or whether they were not.


hoped he could set the apprehensions of the right hon. Gentleman at rest. The Government were not going to erect a series of fortifications round London; they were simply going to complete the work which was undertaken by the right hon. Gentleman himself. [Laughter.] It was a work of a very simple character. It had cost, he thought, some. £68,000 in the past, and in the future it was calculated to cost not more than £96,000, and he did hope that that being so the Committee would feel that there was not a very important question at issue, and that they would allow his right hon. Friend to bring in the Bill.


thought it was the duty of Irish Member's to resist such an expenditure. He did not care very much to what purpose the English people put their money provided they let Ireland have a fair share. The expenditure on military armaments and on the Navy during the last four or five years had been monstrous. He hoped they would have the support of the Conservative Members for Ireland in opposing this Report, because the present expenditure

was so enormous that Ireland was unable to bear her share of the burden.


thought that the expenditure of this additional sum of £96,000 would be a little wasteful. The statement was that London was going to be fortified. In his constituency there had been erected splendid monuments of the Palmerston era in the form of so-called fortifications. Lord Palmerston frightened the country into spending 11 millions of money. The whole town was barricaded with earthworks which were never worth a penny. Last year, as an act of humanity to the population, the War Department agreed to assent to the Town Council removing these ridiculous works, which they have now done at their own expense. In face of that experience, he thought they ought to resist this attempt to waste £96,000. The sooner the item was removed from the Bill the better it would be.

MR. VESEY KNOX (Londonderry)

asked how much money was to be spent in barracks in Ireland. In many places the existing barracks were almost falling to pieces. Three years ago a promise was made that the barracks in his constituency would be put into a decent condition, but nothing had yet been done. Was provision made in this Bill for the necessary expenditure? He also wanted to know what proportion of the whole sum asked for by the Government was to be expended in Ireland. He fancied that the amount intended to be expended in fortifying Berehaven and Lough Swilly was exceedingly small.

DR. TANNER (Cork, Mid)

emphasised the statements of previous speakers, and hoped that the works in Ireland would not be proceeded with until Irish opinion had been consulted. He trusted that the Motion would be pressed to a division.

Question put, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution:"—The House divided:—Ayes, 109; Noes, 29.—(Division List—No. 9—appended.)

Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis Bartley, George C. T. Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire)
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Beach, Rt. Hon. Sir M. H. (Bristol) Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm.)
Bailey, James (Walworth) Bemrose, Henry Howe Charrington, Spencer
Baker, Sir John Boscawen, Arthur Griffith- Clare, Octavius Leigh
Balcarres, Lord Brassey, Albert Clough, Walter Owen
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r) Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H A. E
Balfour, Gerald William (Leeds) Caldwell, James Coghill, Douglas Harry
Banbury, Frederick George Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lanes.) Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse
Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready Hobhouse, Henry Purvis, Robert
Compton, Lord Alwyne (Beds) Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Curzon, Rt. Hn. G. N. (Lanc. S. W.) Jessel, Captain Herbert Morton Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)
Curzon, Viscount (Bucks) Johnston, William (Belfast) Savory, Sir Joseph
Dalbiac, Major Philip Hugh Kenny, William Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard
Dane, Richard M. Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William Seely, Charles Hilton
Davies, W. Rees-(Pembrokesh.) Lawrence, Edwin (Cornwall) Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)
Digby, John K. D. Wingfield- Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool) Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Lawson, John Grant (Yorks) Stone, Sir Benjamin
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington) Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V. Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R. (Essex) Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Liverpool) Talbot, John G. (Oxford Univ.)
Finch, George H. Lloyd, Archie Kirkman Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray
Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Macartney, W. G. Ellison Vincent, Col. Sir C E. Howard
Fairbank, Joseph Thomas Macdona, John Cumming Wanklyn, James Leslie
Fisher, William Hayes McCalmont, Maj-. Gn. (Ant'm, N) Webster, Sir R. E. (Isle of W.)
Fison, Frederick William Malcolm, Ian Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. G. E.
Flannery, Fortescue Milward, Colonel Victor Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.)
Galloway, William Johnson Monckton, Edward Philip Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)
Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (City of Lond.) Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants) Williams, Jos. Powell-(Birin.)
Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans) Muntz, Philip A. Willoughbyde Eresby, Lord
Goldsworthy, Major-General Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Graham (Bute) Willox, John Archibald
Goschen, George J. (Sussex) Murray, Charles J. (Coventry) Wodehouse, Edmond E. (Bath)
Graham, Henry Robert Nicol, Donald Ninian Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Gray, Ernest (West Ham) Parkes, Ebenezer Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy
Gretton, John Paulton, James Mellor
Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm. Pirie, Captain Duncan Vernon TELLERS FOR THE AYES, Sir
Hare, Thomas Leigh Platt-Higgins, Frederick William Walrond and Mr.
Helder, Augustus Pretyman, Capt. Ernest George Anstruther.
Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trotter Pryce-Jones, Edward
Birrell, Augustine Hazell, Walter Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)
Cawley, Frederick Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Robson, William Snowdon
Colville, John Knox, Edmund Francis Vesey Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.
Crean, Eugene Lambert, George Tanner, Charles Kearns
Daly, James Leuty, Thomas Richmond Williams, John Carveil (Notts)
Davitt, Michael Logan, John William Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)
Dillon, John Luttrell, Hugh Fownes Woodhouse, Sir J. T (Hudd'rsf"ld)
Doogan, P. C. M'Hugh, Patrick A. (Leitrim)
Goddard, Daniel Ford McKenna, Reginald TELLERS FOR THE NOES, Mr.
Harrison, Charles O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Kearley and Mr. Lough.
Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale- O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary)

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Brodrick, Mr. Balfour and Mr. Powell-Williams.

Bill to provide for defraying the expenses of certain Military Works and other Military Services," presented accordingly, and Bead the First time; to be Bead a Second time upon Thursday, and to be printed.—[Bill 105.]