1. Motion made, and Question proposed,—
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £1,647, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1898, for maintaining certain Harbours, Lighthouses, etc., under the Board of Trade, including a Grant in Aid.
§ MR. J. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)
I wish to call attention to these Estimates. I find there are supplementary Estimates amounting to about 1291 £12,000 already. First of all is brought in one of £19,087; then we have a supplementary Estimate of £11,915 in May, 1897; and now we are asked, before the financial year closes, for £1,647. I must say that this is a very unusual proceeding in the Estimates of this country. We do not make changes of that kind without some very special reason, and I am sure the President of the Board of Trade will not expect to get this money without some little explanation. No doubt, the sum is a small one, but, added to the very much larger sum of May, 1897, it makes a very considerable total. If the Chairman refers to the original Estimate, he will find that the sum originally was £200 for the repair of the tender Richmond, and now we are asked for an extra £1,400. I should like to know whether this is the last sum that will be required for the repair of this tender, or will there be another £2,000 or £3,000 in the Estimates to be brought in? I have no doubt the President of the Board of Trade will be able to give an explanation.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
In my opinion this is the proper method of providing for these lights houses, but I wish to point out that in 1894 I drew the attention of the then President of the Board of Trade, Mr. Mundella, to the fact that the lighthouses at the Bahamas were failing to fulfil their purpose, that a considerable number of them were irregular, and did not revolve at the proper intervals. I wish to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is now aware if these lighthouses are doing their work and revolving in their proper period?
THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
That question does not arise here. This vote is simply for repairs to a steam tender.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
This tendar is kept up in order to see that the lighthouses are doing their duty efficiently, and it is most important that they should revolve at the proper intervals.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. C. T. RITCHIE,) Croydon
The repairs to the tender will not make 1292 the lighthouses revolve at the proper interval. The hon. Member must confine Himself strictly to the vote.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
If you rule that the efficiency of the lighthouses does not come into the question of the tender, I will not pursue that subject further. But I wish to point out—and this is my main reason for rising—that this is the first item of an enormous series of items and supplementary Estimates, Estimates supplementary to those we have already considered, discussed, and passed. I wish to know whether this particular Estimate ought to be a supplementary Estimate? It is an Estimate for repairs to a steam tender, and in the original estimate £229 were voted for that purpose, the balance of the estimate being for crew, coaling, and incidental expenses. Now, Sir, this tender is well known; it is an old friend of my own; it is known to be a vessel of what sailors would call the "clumbunghy" class—old, worn out, and in constant need of repair. I suggest that, when the Government prepared the Estimates for last year, they should have known, they must have known, that this tender would be in need of very considerable repairs during the year with which we were then concerned.
§ MR. P. A. M'HUGH (Leitrim, N.)
I beg to call attention to the fact that there are not 40 Members present.
§ The necessary number of Members having returned—
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
, resuming, said: I wish to point out that the Government knew that this tender would be in need of repairs, and in presenting the original Estimates only proposed £200 for that—merely for £200—and then, at the end of the financial year, a demand is made for an additional £1,400, which, I submit, should not have been a supplementary Estimate. The necessity for it must have been foreseen, and it should have been included in last year's Estimates. The system of asking for merely a part of what is wanted, and demanding additional sums, is injurious to the financial methods of the House in discussing questions of detail. I repeat, Sir, that I 1293 have no complaint to make of extravagance in regard to the conduct of the lighthouse service, either abroad or at home; but I want the Government to exercise the foresight and prudence that every private employer exercises, and in giving an estimate of the amount of repairs likely to be required by this steam tender they should not have asked merely for £200, and then, at the end of the financial year, come to us and say, "We have made a mistake, and want another £1,400." I trust the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, will give an explanation.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
From the observations that have fallen from the hon. Member for Lynn Regis it might be thought that it is a matter of fiendish satisfaction and immense pleasure on the part of the Government to bring in supplementary Estimates. I have never found any of my colleagues desirous of rushing in supplementary Estimates. These are necessitated by certain matters over which the Government have no control. Within my own experience this is, so far as I can recollect, the very first supplementary Estimate I have asked in connection with the Board of Trade, so that, whatever may be the sins of omission and commission on the part of my colleagues, the accusation does not apply to myself. It must be evident, I think, that it is much more difficult to estimate in the case of a tender like this, situated at a distance, than if it were on a home station, and under our immediate care. The hon. Gentleman opposite asks whether this £1,400 is the last sum to be asked for in connection with this tender—the Richmond? No, Sir, it is not the last sum; it is the first sum. The estimated cost of repairing the tender is £3,300, and the £1,400 represents the amount that will have to be expended during the present financial year. The reason why the £1,400 now asked was not put in the original Estimate is that the Board of Trade had 1294 not the information demanded. If my hon. Friend the Member for Lynn Regis desires to see the light revolve as rapidly as he would wish, he will grant that it is necessary to have an efficient tender. That is the whole secret of the matter, which after all cannot be complained of, having regard to the fact that we have to deal with a vessel at a very considerable distance from these shores.
§ MR. J. G. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)
The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade has said that Members on this side of the House seem to think that the Government take a fiendish pleasure in adding to original Estimates.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
This is a supplementary Estimate upon a £3,300 job; it is the first portion of that sum.
§ MR. J. G. WEIR
I say the Government ought to have known what would be wanted, and not have sprung upon us matters of this kind. It is so much the worse if this is only the first sum. We ought to have had the Estimates in our hands last year. Since you, Sir, rule that the lighthouse question is not to be touched upon, I should like to ask to what extent, in consequence of the inefficiency of the tender Richmond, have the lighthouses suffered? Like my hon. Friend opposite, the Member for Lynn Regis, I object very strongly to these large sums being put down in this way. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade says this vessel is a long way off; but I maintain the Government ought to have known at the beginning of the Session what these repairs would cost. I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by £100.
§ MR. WILLIAM ALLAN (Gateshead)
I should like to ask the President of the Board of Trade what the repairs to this tender consist of? If the sum of £3,300 is for repairs, and these repairs, as I understood him, are to be done at Bermuda, 1295 I should like to know what is wrong with the tender that £3,300 requires to be spent on it, and who is to do the repairs; and are they to be done in the Navy Dockyard at Bermuda? So far as I know Bermuda, there is no repairing shop there.
§ MR. J. CALDWELL
From the manner in which the President of the Board of Trade has answered I do not think he has any information before him. The right hon. Member must observe that we are dealing here with a tender, and with a question of repairs. It, therefore, is an old ship that is being repaired, and what we want to know is—Is it prudent to spend £3,300 in repairing a tender, which, probably after repair will be useless?Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will inform the House where this vessel was built, what was its original cost, and if it is worth spending £3,300 upon in repairs; if it is still required, and for what service, and what is the nature of the repairs to be done upon it. This House is in the position of a business firm; we are dealing with public money, and it is necessary that we should find out whether this money is being appropriately spent. We cannot find that out unless we get from the right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Trade, the explanation for which I have asked. Is this expenditure to be limited to the Estimate, because we know that nothing is more common in this House than for an Estimate like this, of £3,300, to become £5,000 or £6,000. We want to know if these repairs are to cost £3,300, or double that sum, and what kind of tender this is that the money is being spent on? On the face of it, it does not appear that this is a proper sum to be spent on that tender.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Trade, a simple way of meeting my objections. He has the Estimate for the repairs in his hand; 1296 let him give us the date of it. If it is such that it could have been put in the original Estimates, I must vote against it.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
I cannot tell the exact date and I cannot imagine why the hon. Member for Lynn Regis should imagine that this supplementary Estimate was deliberately kept back.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
I beg pardon; I did not mean that. What I meant was that, having made too small an Estimate originally, the Government, finding themselves in the position of having a very large surplus this year, are throwing some of it away on this old tender.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
I don't quite understand what the hon. Member means. We have only, since the Estimates were prepared, obtained from Bermuda the estimate of the cost of repairs to this tender, and it was impossible to put it in the original Estimate. With regard to the question of the hon. Member for Gateshead, as to where the tender is to be repaired, I am not in possession of that information, but the hon. Gentleman has supplied the answer to his own question, for he has said there is no public dockyard at Bermuda, and, therefore, the tender will have to be repaired—if he is correct—by a private firm. With regard to the question of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid. Lanark as to the Richmond being an old ship, he seems to take it for granted that it is old. We have no information which would enable us to accept that description. I believe, as a matter of fact, that the vessel was built in 1891, but I have not come down to the House with the exact age of the ship, and the precise details of what is wanted here, and what is wanted there. We have submitted the estimates to the House, based upon information given to us by those on the spot, in whom we have every confidence, and we ask the House to support us in this vote.
§ The Committee divided.—Ayes 57; Noes 87.
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary)|
|Allen, Wm. (Newc.-under-L.)||Gilhooly, James||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Austin, Sir Jno. (Yorkshire)||Gourley, Sir. Edw. Temperley||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Bainbridge, Emerson||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Chas. H.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Holden, Angus||Shaw, Chas. Edw. (Stafford)|
|Blake, Edward||Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez Ed.||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn)||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.)||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Cawley, Frederick||Jordan, Jeremiah||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Kilbride, Denis||Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.)|
|Crean, Eugene||MacAleese, Daniel||Tanner, Charles Kearns|
|Crilly, Daniel||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Thomas, David Alf. (Merthyr)|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||M'Cartan, Michael||Tully, Jasper|
|Daly, James||M'Dermott, Patrick||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Dalziel, James Henry||M'Ghee, Richard||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Davitt, Michael||M'Hugh, Patrick A. (Leitrim)||Williams Jno. Carvell (Notts)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||M'Leod, John||Woodall, William|
|Doogan, P. C.||Maddison, Frederick||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Finucane, John||Mandeville, J. Francis|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Morton, Ed. J. C. (Devonpt.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Murnaghan, George||Mr. Weir and Mr. Caldwell.|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Mnc'r)||Milward, Colonel Victor|
|Bagot, Capt. J. FitzRoy||Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Monckton, Edward Philip|
|Balcarres, Lord||Fisher, William Hayes||Monk, Charles James|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Fison, Frederick William||Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants.)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A J. (Manch'r)||FitzGerald, Sir R. U. Penrose||More, Robert Jasper|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. Grld W. (Leeds)||Flower, Ernest||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptfrd)|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Forwood, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur B.||Muntz, Philip A.|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Foster, Colonel (Lancashire)||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Grh'm (Bute)|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Ben.||Gedge, Sydney||Penn, John|
|Begg, Ferdinand Faithful||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Plunkett, Rt. Hn. Horace Curz'n|
|Bethell, Commander||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir Jno. Eldon||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||Purvis, Robert|
|Brookfield, A. Montagu||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord Geo.||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Butcher, John George||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert. Wm.||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Charles T.|
|Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin)||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r)||Heath, James||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Helder, Augustus||Saunderson, Col. Edward Jas.|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord Arth'r (Down)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Cox, Robert||Kenvon, James||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Kimber, Henry||Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Knowles, Lees||Williams, Josh, Powell- (Birm)|
|Curzon, Viscount (Bucks.)||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Wilson, J. W. (Worc'sh., N.)|
|Dalbiac, Major Philip Hugh||Lawrence, Sir Ed. (Cornwall)||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart|
|Dane, Richard M.||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Wyndham, George|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Drage, Geoffrey||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Drucker, A.||Lucas-Shadwell, William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Macdona, John Gumming||Sir William Walrond and|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Mr. Anstruther.|
§ *MR. MONK (Gloucester)
I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the other Powers are paying the same contribution as this country towards the cost of the bridge over the Jew's river on the road to Cape Spartel.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
The right hon. Gentleman knows the condition 1298 under which this lighthouse is kept up. The lighthouse is kept up by 10 foreign nations, as without it the Straits of Gibraltar could not be navigated. These 10 foreign nations, held the Convention of Morocco on the 18th February, 1865, whereby they undertook to keep up, and the Sultan of Morocco allowed them to keep up, this very 1299 important lighthouse. From that day to this, the Powers have each paid us, under the Convention they were bound to pay, one-tenth part of the cost of the maintenance of the lighthouse. It was for the maintenance of the lighthouse that we undertook to be subscribers. But this vote that we are now asked for in a supplementary way, should have been in the original Estimates. It has nothing whatever to do with the lighthouse—it is for the erection of a bridge in Morocco, in the territories of the Sultan of Morocco, and I should have thought that the Jews or the Sultan ought to have erected that bridge themselves, and that the House of Commons should not be called upon to pay any part of the cost of erecting a bridge over a river in the territories of Morocco. If we erect this bridge, I see no reason why we should not erect every bridge in Morocco—no reason at all, and the hon. Member behind me has already asked whether the Powers have contributed a similar portion. The total cost is £2,470—because if we are paying £247, and 10. Powers are paying a 10th part each, the total cost must be £2,470—that sum must represent the total expenditure. However, such a sum as that, for erecting a bridge over the Jew's River, is entirely extravagant. It is a sum much higher than it ought to be. I think I know the river in question, and no doubt it is subject to torrents, and consequently the bridge may be a somewhat more extensive bridge than in other parts of Morocco where there is no liability to torrents of this kind, but, still, the sum of £2,470 is a very large sum for erecting a bridge, and I say that neither England nor any one of the other Powers has any business to be called upon to pay one farthing towards its cost: especially as we have no control over it whatever, and that is a totally different thing to the lighthouse, over which we have some control. There is another point. By the Convention of 18th February, 1865, to which I have referred, it is recited that the Sultan of Morocco gives permission to the 10 nations to maintain, this lighthouse, and it is also provided that he himself is not to pay any portion towards it, because he has he Navy. That was a very good reason then, but it is no reason now, because 1300 he has got a Navy. At any rate he has got an armed vessel, which has captured a British trader, and consequently the Sultan should pay his part, because he has now come into the position by which he undertook to pay his part towards the maintenance of this lighthouse. It is not 10 nations, but 11, that are called upon to maintain this lighthouse. He has a navy, and has, as I have already said, captured a British trader, and the time has arrived when the 11th nation should be called upon to pay its share, and therefore the first question I would ask is: Is the cost of this bridge to be £2,470? Secondly, I would ask whether it is built in the territories of the Sultan of Morocco, over which the 10 contributory Powers have no control whatever; and thirdly, whether he is prepared to call upon, or has already called upon, the Sultan of Morocco, who now has a navy, or the beginning of a navy, to bear his share towards the cost of the bridge?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
The hon. Gentleman objects to this being in the Supplementary Estimate, but as the Board of Trade did not become aware of the claim till June, 1897, the hon. Gentleman will see that it could not be included in the original Estimate. Then he says that it is quite true that, by the Convention, we had to pay for the lighthouse with other Powers. The bridge in, question was for communication between Tangiers and the lighthouse, and application being made for our share towards its construction under the Convention, we had no option but to pay, as we are interested in keeping up the connection between Tangiers and the lighthouse. The hon. Gentleman says: Why do not we call upon Morocco to pay her portion? Well, Sir, the reason we do not call upon Morocco to pay her portion is, that by the Convention of 1896, according to my recollection, the several Powers, minus Morocco, agreed to bear their share in any expenditure connected with that lighthouse. We have received an application from the chief Power interested, for our contribution towards the expenditure, and at the same time by the Convention we have no option whatever but to pay 1301 for our portion of the expenditure. I may say that I think, having regard to the fact of the large amount of British shipping interested in this matter, if we can get off by paying a proportion of one-tenth, along with nine other Powers, we get off very cheaply indeed, having regard to our great interests in that part of the world. If Morocco were to be called upon to pay the proportion which she is not bound to pay, I think it would reduce our contribution by £25; and when the difficulty of getting money out of Morocco is considered, I think it is hardly worth our while to enter into a correspondence in order to reduce our contribution by £25.
§ MR. P. A. M'HUGH
I beg to move the reduction of this Vote by £50. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, was unable to give us any information about this ship; he has also failed to give us any information about this bridge which it is proposed to build, and which should be built by the Jews or by the Sultan of Morocco, instead of by us. The right hon. Gentleman says that Her Majesty's Government did not wish to call upon Morocco to subscribe towards the expenditure of building this bridge. Well, he represents the British Government. I represent a constituency in Ireland, and if he says he is not going to call upon Morocco to pay towards the expense of the construction of this bridge, I say that I do not wish my constituents to be taxed for the construction of the bridge. I therefore beg to move the reduction of this vote by £50.
§ MR. J. CALDWELL
I do not think that the information given by the right hon. Gentleman is at all adequate. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman has read the Estimate that we are dissussing. It is item "E: Grant in aid of the construction of a bridge." That is the point I am discussing, and not the lighthouse. What we want to know is whether this bridge is used exclusively for the lighthouse. If that is so, then I can understand that the bridge, in these circumstances, is a proper charge. If that is so, what do we want a tender for to go out to the lighthouse if we have a bridge? With regard to this particular bridge, the right hon. Gentleman will, of course, tell us 1302 whether it starts from the shore to the lighthouse.
§ Mr. J. CALDWELL
In the face of the Estimate, it does not appear as if it went out from the shore. It is, then, to cross a river. Now I want to know whether that river is entirely in the territory of Morocco, and whether this country has got an arrangement with the Government of Morocco. With regard to this bridge, erected with other people's money, supposing they do not contribute to it, we want to know whether there is going to be an arrangement by which the bridge will not be interfered with by Morocco. You are here dealing with the expenditure of British money, and I venture to say that it is a most unusual proceeding that we should spend our money in making a bridge which, for aught I know, may be a bridge for the convenience of the district, not merely for the lighthouse, but, it may be, a general bridge for the purposes of the inhabitants of Morocco, for which we have got no bargain and no guarantee whatever that, if we pay the cost of this bridge, we shall have the slightest claim to keep it. I suppose the bridge has been built already. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman can tell us when the bridge was finished, and whether it is a wooden, iron, or a stone bridge. After all, we want to know to whom the bridge belongs, and how long it has been built. Is this Estimate in respect of a bridge which might be a convenience to the inhabitants of the district, to cross the river? With regard to this Estimate, I should like to know how much the bridge will cost altogether, and who are contributing to its cost, as regards other Powers? And then, if the bridge is finished, I should like to know the date when it was finished. If the bridge is not finished, I should like to know whether this is the whole of the Estimate, or whether this is practically only half of what we have to pay. We do not know whether the bridge is finished; we do not know whether you have got any absolute right to that bridge, and that it will not be interfered with by the 1303 Sultan of Morocco. These are questions which we do expect to be answered when a matter of this kind comes before the House, and public money is being spent—not in this country—if it were, it would not matter, because we should benefit by it. But the money is being spent in a foreign country, and we have nothing laid before this Committee to show that we shall have the smallest claim, after that bridge is built, to it, or that we have got any guarantee that we shall be allowed to use the bridge for the purpose for which it is intended. I say that the President of the Board of Trade should give us a little more explanation. We must excuse him, because he did not expect these Estimates to come on to-night. That is probably a reason why he should not have taken them up. If he has the information, I hope he will give it to us on the particular points which I have mentioned.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
I think the hon. Member has been treating this matter more as a Scotch joke but it is not one. It is a bridge across a river in Morocco. I may now say that I have obtained a reference to the Treaty, and I find that applications were exchanged with Tangiers in 1867. It is true that it was signed on the 3st May, 1865. But, Sir, what is the use of a Treaty with the Sultan of Morocco? What I wish to call attention to is this: First of all, the hon. Gentleman opposite has called into question the security of the lighthouse. Now the Sultan undertakes to furnish a sergeant and four soldiers to take care of the lighthouse. That is part of his solemn obligation to the ten nations of Europe, although the ten nations are allowed to administer it and pay for it. The river is some distance from the lighthouse. It is certainly a long way from Tangiers. I think I remember this river. I think I had once to swim across it, but it is certainly a considerable distance, and undoubtedly it is the territory of the Sultan of Morocco, and what I wish to know is this: There are constant revolts, especially on this part of the coast; what guarantee have we got for the safety of this bridge when it is built? How are we to know that those close to it may not come and capture it. The 1304 sergeant and four men are at the lighthouse. They are not to be at the bridge. I submit that we ought to have a sergeant and four more soldiers at the bridge. Then there is another point. How many more bridges are we going to be asked to build? It seems to me that the Sultan should take the task upon himself. I am very sorry that Her Majesty's Government have had to propose this Vote. I acquit the right hon. Gentleman, with regard to the Supplemental Vote, but he did not give me the date in this case. He has given me the date in this instance, and I think the fact of it being a Supplemental Estimate is perfectly justified. I think, however, that the British House of Commons ought not to be called upon to vote any money at all for this purpose.
§ MR. J. C. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
I wish particularly to draw the attention of the Committee to another view of the question. The original Estimate for this bridge was £60; now it is £247. I venture to say that if the Works. Department of the London County Council had done anything of that kind, the Unionist Press of London would have been in full cry denouncing them for their extravagance and utter incapacity. We have had no explanation, of the fact that this bridge, which was originally estimated to cost £60, is now going to cost £247. That is very extraordinary. Well, we are prepared to make allowances for the right hon. Gentleman not being able to give full particulars, but something more is necessary in the way of explanation. It has been my privilege and duty to discuss the Estimates at considerable length in former years, but I search the records of my experience in vain for a case similar to this, in which an original Estimate is quadrupled when it comes to this Committee. We must persist in our demand for a Division upon this question, unless the right hon. Gentleman gives some explanation for the original Estimate, which was £60, now being more than four times that sum.
§ MR. JAMES DALY (Monaghan, S.)
I have heard several questions asked of the right hon. Gentleman, but I do not hear any asked as to who is to get the contract 1305 for this bridge, and whether it will be put out to some firm that will carry it out in a proper and satisfactory manner. It is necessary, when we are expending such a lot of money, that the construction of this bridge shall be placed in competent hands. It is a matter that I feel very strongly about, and I would like to have from, the right hon. Gentleman a statement on this point. Can he tell me and the honourable Members of this House who has got the contract? I have not heard whether this bridge is to accommodate more than the people of Morocco, or simply those who go to the lighthouse. It is a, matter that troubles my mind whether tolls are to be charged. It is no reason why, after the money of this House has been spent in the construction of this bridge, that foreigners, even the Sultan himself, should be allowed to cross it without paying. I can assure the honourable Member who laughs that I have no more respect for the Sultan than any common member of the community. He is no more to me than any ordinary member, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to explain this, which is most unsatisfactory. Of course, the honourable Member for Lynn Regis opposed this vote, and then he wanted to back out of it by having a shot at honourable Members on this side of the House. I do not blame him for initiating this discussion, for I think it will turn out very useful, taking it all round. I think the right hon. Gentleman, will come in future, when he requires a vote of this description, prepared with a satisfactory explanation.
§ *MR. WILLIAM WOODALL (Hanley)
I desire to know if the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to give us any information, or inform the Committee whether the International Convention for the maintenance of the lighthouse also involved the maintenance of the road all the way from Tangiers to Cape Spartel, or if that be not the case, how it comes about that the International Governments, who want the lighthouse, are called upon to construct this bridge? We all know that in Morocco the roads are of the simplest kind, and wheeled vehicles practically unknown. The Committee 1306 had a right to know more of the necessity for, and the character of, the bridge in question.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
If it is accepted that the official maintenance of the lighthouse is a matter of interest to the maritime Powers, the hon. Gentleman will see that the communication with the lighthouse ought also to be in a satisfactory condition. It is with a view to secure that, that this permanent way is being constructed. It is for the convenience of the lighthouse, and not for the convenience of the Sultan.
§ MR. J. CALDWELL
Have you made any arrangement whereby the road is to be kept up; also, I would like to ask, is the bridge only for access, or is it for any other purpose?
§ MR. J. C. FLYNN
The amount is comparatively insignificant, but surely the principle of the thing is what we want an explanation of.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
May I explain that £60 was a tenth part of the annual sum of maintaining the lighthouse? The £60 has nothing to do with the bridge; it is the tenth part of the £600.
§ MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL (Tyrone, N.)
I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, for the information of the House, whether the other nine Powers contribute to the building of the bridge, because it is either a part of the lighthouse or it is not, and if it is part of the lighthouse, the other nine Powers are equally required to contribute.
§ MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
It seems a very expensive bridge. As I understand, this is only the tenth part of the expense of the bridge. I would also ask for an answer to the question put by the hon. Member behind me whether the Government consider themselves bound to maintain the entire road 1307 from Tangiers to Cape Spartel, or is the bridge necessary for the maintenance of the lighthouse?
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
May I ask the hon. Gentleman what sort of a bridge it is—whether it is to be a stone bridge, an iron bridge, or a wooden bridge; what is to be its length, and what is to be its breadth, and whether the plans and specifications of it have been laid before the House of Commons?
§ MR. P. A. M'HUGH
Her Majesty's Minister is not able to give any definite answers to the questions which have been addressed to him by Members from this side of the House. He does not know the length of the bridge nor the breadth of it. He does not know in what manner it is to be
§ constructed. He does not know whether it is to be constructed or not. It was no doubt very kind of the hon. Member for East Lynn—for King's Lynn—to come to the assistance of Her Majesty's Minister. I say that Her Majesty's Minister should be prepared to answer all the questions which the Member for King's Lynn has undertaken to answer to this House. We appeal to him for information. We appeal to the Minister of the Crown, but as the hon. Member for King's Lynn has undertaken to inform this House in regard to this bridge, I would ask him to get up in his place to answer the questions.
§ Question put—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 62; Noes, 101.1309
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Pirie, Captain Duncan|
|Allen, Wm. (Newc.-under-L.)||Hedderwick, Thos. Chas. H.||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Austin, Sir Jno. (Yorkshire)||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Chas. H.||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Holden, Angus||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Billson, Alfred||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.)||Shaw, Chas. Edw. (Stafford)|
|Burt, Thomas||Jordan, Jeremiah||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Caldwell, James||Kearley, Hudson E.||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilt'n||Kilbride, Denis||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.|
|Cawley, Frederick||Lloyd-George, David||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||MacAleese, Daniel||Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.)|
|Colville, John||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Tanner, Charles Kearns|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||M'Ghee, Richard||Tully, Jasper|
|Crean, Eugene||M'Kenna, Reginald||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Crilly, Daniel||M'Leod, John||Weir, James Galloway|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||Maddison, Frederick||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Daly, James||Mandeville, J. Francis||Williams Jno. Carvell (Notts)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Woodall, William|
|Davitt, Michael||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptf'rd)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Murnaghan, George|
|Doogan, P. C.||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Owen, Thomas||Mr. Patrick Aloysius|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||M'Hugh and Mr. Flynn.|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin)||Fardell, Sir T. George|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r)||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.|
|Bagot, Capt. J. FitzRoy||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Mnc'r)|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Cochrane, Hn. Thos. H. A.. E.||Firbank, Joseph Thomas|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. Grld W. (Leeds)||Colomb, Sir Jno. Chas. Ready||Fison, Frederick William|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Cox, Robert||FitzGerald, Sir R. U. Penrose|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Flower, Ernest|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Ben.||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Forwood, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur B.|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristl.)||Curzon, Viscount (Bucks.)||Foster, Colonel (Lancashire)|
|Begg, Ferdinand Faithful||Dalbiac, Major Philip Hugh||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)|
|Bethell, Commander||Dalkeith, Earl of||Gedge, Sydney|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn)||Dane, Richard M.||Goldsworthy, Major-General|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Gordon, Hon. John Edward|
|Brookfield, A. Montagu||Drage, Geoffrey||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon|
|Bucknill, Thomas Townsend||Drucker, A.||Gourley, Sir. Ed. Temperley|
|Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||Macdona, John Cumming||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord Geo.||Maclure, Sir John William||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.|
|Haslett, Sir James Horner||M'Calmont, H. L. B. (Cambs.)||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Charles T.|
|Heath, James||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Helder, Augustus||Milbank, Powlett Chas. John||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord Arth'r (Down)||Milward, Colonel Victor||Saunderson, Col. Edward Jas.|
|Hoare, Ed. Brodie (Hampst'd)||Monckton, Edward Philip||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Howell, William Tudor||Monk, Charles James||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Johnston, William (Belfast)||Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants.)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Kenyon, James||More, Robert Jasper||Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)|
|Kimber, Henry||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptfrd)||Williams, Josh. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Knowles, Lees||Muntz, Philip A.||Wilson, J. W. (Worc'sh. N.)|
|Laurie, Lieut.-General||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Grh'm (Bute)||Wyndham, George|
|Lawrence, Sir Ed. (Cornwall)||Penn, John||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Plunkett, Rt. Hn. Horace Curz'n|
|Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Pollock, Harry Frederick||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Sir William Walrond and|
|Lucas-Shadwell, William||Purvis, Robert||Mr. Anstruther.|
Question put, and agreed to.