HC Deb 02 March 1903 vol 118 cc1162-9

Vote agreed to.


Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £2,000 be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1903, for the Salaries and Expenses of certain services transferred from the Mercantile Marine Fund, and other services connected with the Mercantile Marine."

SIR ALBERT ROLLIT called attention to the fact that in this Vote the excess in the revised Estimate over the original amount was rather more than 200 per cent. although this was one of those ordinary matters with regard to which shipping firms were able to obtain very accurate and close estimates. He would like to know the reason of this remarkable difference between the original and the revised Estimates.


said that a supplementary estimate was one which from the very nature of the case required adjustment. The ordinary Estimate was the Estimate provided by the Government to include all the expenditure of the year, and the only possible ground for a supplementary Estimate was that there had been some expense which could not possibly be foreseen. As no Member of the Government competent to answer as to steam launches was present, he moved to report Progress and ask leave to sit again.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress; and ask leave to sit again." Mr. Gibson Bowles.


regretted that, owing to the rapidity with which this Estimate had been reached, the Minister who had to answer for it was not present. He, as representing the Treasury, had scarcely any opportunity of looking into the matter, and was unable to give any details that were asked for.

MB. GIBSON BOWLES said this was a most extraordinary Estimate. The original Estimate for maintenance of steam launches was £530, and they were asked to add to that a sum of £2,000. It seemed to him like midsummer madness. He must persist in his Motion to report Progress and ask leave to sit again.

MR. KEARLEY pointed out that the original Estimate for the two items in question was only £1,200, and as the Committee were now asked to vote a further £2,000 they naturally wanted some details.

As the President of the Board of Trade was now in his place,

MR. GIBSON BOWLES asked leave to withdraw his Motion to report progress.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question again proposed.

MR. GIBSON BOWLES said the supplementary Estimate in this case was nearly double the original Estimate. The question of maintenance was a very small thing in the case of a steam launch, and it was difficult to understand why this sum should be required. It was the duty of Ministers to estimate with moderate accuracy the sums they required for the service of the year, and not to bring forward supplementary estimates unless new circumstances, which could not have been foreseen, arose. No reason whatever had been given for this large additional Vote, and he hoped the Minister responsible would give some explanation.


in expressing regret at his absence when the Vote was called on, explained that he made arrangements to be summoned, but those arrangements did not seem to have been successful.

The sum in question was required for special repairs. The practice of the Board of Trade in regard to these steam launches was to ask for an amount equivalent to the average of several years. They were not in a position to know whether any special repairs would be required, and it was only within the last two or three months that this expenditure had had to be incurred. In each case the repairs consisted of a new boiler and general overhaul. It would be possible for the Board of Trade to ascertain in each year what important repairs were likely to be required, but, as a matter of fact, experience had shown that if such an estimate were made, a demand would be immediately forthcoming for such repairs. la practice it had been found more economical to take the average, and then, when repairs were actually required, the amount was supplied out of savings previously made.


asked whether these were old boilers, or had some unforeseen accident occurred?

MR. GALLOWAY asked what sort of boilers they were.

MR. GERALD BALFOUR did not suppose they wore water-tube boilers, nor was he able to state their age. He believed, however, that they were old ones.

*SIR WALTER POSTER said the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman was almost as remarkable as the supplementary Estimate. Year after year the Committee had voted £550 for maintenance of steam launches, and now, when there had been two previous opportunities of considering the necessities of. this particular case, a demand was suddenly made for an additional amount nearly equal to two years allowance. No private business could be conducted on such lines. The right hon. Gentleman had said that it did not do to anticipate repairs or to estimate for them, because the repairs would then be demanded. That showed loose control and lack of supervision in the Department. A private firm, if it inspected its machinery to see what repairs were required, would take care that unnecessary repairs were not forced upon it. These so-called special repairs could, with a little ordinary foresight, have been provided for in the ordinary estimates of the year.

MR. KEARLEY said it would be very interesting to know what the steam launches were originally supplied for, because it seemed to him an extraordinary expenditure on two steam launches in one year. The Admiralty had, until quite recently, kept up the pernicious system of spending hundreds of thousands of pounds a year upon old ships which, when they had been fitted out, were found to be absolutely worthless for service. Tie suggested the case under discussion was an exact reproduction of the same pernicious system. Here were two rickety steam launches, which probably did not cost more than £800 when new. They had gone to the bad simply because, as the President of the Board of Trade had admitted, if they had asked the people how things were going, there would have been a wholesale demand for repairs. That, in his opinion, showed that these vessels were rotten, and required to be cleared out. The Committee were

entitled to know the actual condition and age of the boats, what was the cost price, and why it was that this particular Department of the Government was afraid to ask how things were going. It proved incompetency and lack of power to control. He hoped the President of the Board of Trade would reply. He prophesied that the expenditure on the launches for the year was equal to their original cost.


asked whether the money had been spent, or whether, if it was to be spent shortly, it could not appear in the ordinary estimates of the current year.

MR GERALD BALFOUE said the money had already been spent. As regards the cost of the boats, he was not able to give the amount off-hand, hut he might be able to give full information later on.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 197; Noes, 117. (Division List No. 10.)

Howard, J. (Midd., Tott'ham) More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire) Sharpe, William Edward T.
Jameson. Major J. Eustace Morrison, James Archibald Simeon, Sir Barrington
Johnstone, Heywood Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer Sinclair, Louis (Romford)
Kemp, Lieut.-Colonel George Mount, William Arthur Sloan, Thomas Henry
Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop) Muntz, Sir Philip A. Smith, James Parker (Lanarks)
Kimber, Henry Murray, Rt Hn A. Graham (Bute) Spear, John Ward
King, Sir Henry Seymour Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway, N.) Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)
Knowles, Lees O'Doherty, William Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.
Lambton, Hon. Fredk. Wm. O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier
Laurie, Lieut.-General Parkes, Ebenezer Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ)
Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow) Peel, Hn Wm. Robert Wellesley Thorburn, Sir Walter
Lawrence, Sir Jos. (Monm'th) Percy, Earl Thornton, Percy M.
Lawson, John Grant Plummer, Walter R. Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.
Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Powell, Sir Francis Sharp Tritton, Charles Ernest
Llewellyn, Evan Henry Pretyman, Ernest George Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward
Lockie, John Purvis, Robert Valentia, Viscount
Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Pym, C. Guy Vincent. Col. Sir C. E. H. (Sheffield)
Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham) Randles, John S. Walker, Col. William Hall
Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Bristol, S.) Rasch, Major Krederie Carne Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H.
Lonsdale, John Brownlee Rattigan, Sir William Henry Welby, Lieut-Cl. A. C. E. (Taunt'n)
Lowther, C. (Cumb, Eskdale) Reid, James (Greenock) Wharton, Kt. Hon. John Lloyd
Loyd, Archie Kirkman Remnant, James Farqnharson Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)
Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft) Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green) Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Lucas, Reg'ld J. (Portsmouth) Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Macdona, John Cumming Rolleston, Sir John F. L. Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.)
M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool) Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye Wodebouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)
M'Calmont, Colonel James Ropuer Colonel Sir Robert Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart
Maple, Sir John Blundell Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter Wylie, Alexander
Martin, Richard Biddulph Round, Rt. Hon. James Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Melville, Beresford Valentine Royds, Clement Molyneux Wyndham Quin, Major W. H.
Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M. Sackville, Col. S. C. Stopford
Milvain, Thomas Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Mr. Anstruther.
Mitchell, William Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert
Moon, Edward Robert Pacy Seely, Maj. J. E. B. (Isle of Wight)
Abraham, W. (Cork, N. E.) Ferguson. R. C. Munro (Leith) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbt. Hy. Ffrench, Peter O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.)
Atherley-Jones, L. Flavin, Michael Joseph O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)
Barry, E. (Cork, S.) Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) O'Dowd, John
Blake, Edward Gilhooly, James O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)
Boland, John Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J. O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N)
Bryee, Right Hon. James Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Burke, E. Haviland Harmsworth, R. Leicester Palmer, Sir Charles M. (Durham)
Buxton, Sydney Charles Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale Partington, Oswald
Caldwell, James Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Chas. H Paulton, James Mellor
Cameron, Robert Horniman, Frederick John Power, Patrick Joseph
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Joicey, Sir James Price, Robert John
Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton Jones, David B. (Swansea) Keddy, M.
Causton, Richard Knight Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire) Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Channing. Francis Allston Joyce. Michael Redmond, William (Clare)
Condon, Thomas Joseph Lambert, George Reid, Sir R, Thres. (Dumfries)
Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark) Law, H. Alex. (Donegal, W) Roberts, John H. (Denbighs)
Crean, Eugene Layland-Barratt, Francis Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)
Crombie, John William Leese, Sir Jos. F. (Accrington) Rose, Charles Day
Cullinan, J. Lloyd-George, David Runciman, Walter
Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen) Lough, Thomas Russell, T. W.
Davies, M. Vaughan. (Cardign) Lundon, W. Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)
Delany, William MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Schwann, Charles E.
Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.) MacVeagh, Jercmiah Shackleton, David Jones
Donelan, Captain A. M'Govern, T. Shipman, Dr. John G.
Doogan, P. C. M'Kenna, Reginald Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)
Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark) Mansfield, Horace Kendall Smith, Samuel (Flint)
Duffy. William J. Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Dunn, Sir William Murnaghan, George Soares, Ernest J.
Emmott, Alfred Murphy, John Spencer, Rt Hn C. R. (Northants)
Esmonde, Sir Thomas Nannetti, Joseph P. Stevenson, Francis S.
Evans, Saml. T. (Glamorgan) Norton, Capt. Cecil William Strachey, Sir Edward
Farquharson, Dr. Robert O'Brien, Kendal (Tipp'rary Mid Sullivan, Donal
Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E) Warner, Thomas Courtenay T. Wilson, Fred W. (Norfolk, Mid.)
Thomas, David A. (Merthyr) Wason, Engene (Clackmannan) Yoxall, lames Henry
Thomson, F. W. (York; W. R.) Weir, James Galloway
Toulmin, George White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Trevelyan, Charles Philips Whiteley, George (York. W. R.) TELLERS FOE THE NOES—Mr. Kearley and Mr. Charles Hobhonse.
Wallace, Robert Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Walton, John Lawson (Leeds, S.) Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Forward to