§ Motion made, and Question proposed, 'That a sum, not exceeding £1,345 17s. 4d., be granted to His Majesty, to make good, in Excess on the Grant for Diplomatic and Consular Buildings for the year ended on the 31st day of March, 1904."
§ MR. SOARES (Devonshire, Barnstaple)
said he observed that the Vote was for he purchase of a site for a Consulate at Cairo, and that the transaction took place in 1903. Why, then, was it placed in the Estimates for 1905?
§ MR. WEIR (ROSS and Cromarty)
, as protest against extravagant expenditure in providing palatial Consulates, moved the reduction of the Vote by £50. He happened to know the Cellulate at Cairo, and he could not understand why they wanted a new site here. He thought the present Consular buildings were quite sufficient or the purpose. They had no right o spend so much money in erecting these grand buildings. The hon. Gentleman in charge of this Vote gave them lo information and remained dumb, and le protested against that sort of thing.
Motion made, and Question proposed, 'That a sum not exceeding £1,295 17s. 4d. be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Weir.)
§ LORD BALCARRES (Lancashire, Chorley)
said the hon. Member appeared have misapprehended the object of he buildings in question, which were surely Consular buildings. The growing interests of this country in Egypt, which lad been largely increased since the acquisition of the Sudan, made imperative an increase in its Consular offices. The site was in a quarter of Cairo where sites were difficult to obtain, and the excess Vote was rendered necessary because our agent, in he interest of the public service, 1037 completed the transaction before Parliamentary sanction was obtained. The Secretary to the Treasury gave his sanction to the site, and the sum necessary was placed on the Estimates for 1904–5, but owing to a purely local misunderstanding the transfer of the title deeds took place earlier than was expected. He expressed regret that this oversight had occurred, but he assured the Committee that the public service had not suffered in consequence.
§ MR. WEIR
said that while the noble Lord had stated that the site would cost £3,414, he had said nothing as to the cost of the building. That, he presumed, would probably be £30,000 or £40,000, and as a taxpayer and a Highland Member, who was unable to get the Government to spend even a sixpence for the benefit of the poor people in his part of the country, he strongly protested against such excessive expenditure. He agreed that suitable buildings for our Consuls were necessary, but far too much money was being spent on them at present.
§ MR. LEIF JONES (Westmoreland, Appleby)
asked what the total cost of the site was to be; he understand the amount which had been mentioned was in addition to the money the Committee were now asked to vote.
§ LORD BALCARRES
said that what the Committee were now asked to sanction was an excess Vote on the whole of Vote 7, Diplomatic and Consular Buildings, Class 1. The total cost of the site was £3,414, and the estimated cost of the buildings £6,000.
§ MR. WEIR
said anything more absurd than that £3,000 should be spent on a site to accommodate buildings costing £6,000 could not be conceived.
§ MR. FIELD (Dublin, St. Patrick)
asked whether it was usual for officials to carry out such works on their own responsibility.
§ LORD BALCARRES
said it was quite exceptional, but, as he had already explained, there were local difficulties in this case.
§ MR. SOARES
Where did they get; the money from?
§ LORD BALCARRES
They borrowed it.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. KEIR HARDIE (Merthyr Tydvil)
asked whether it would be possible to move the adjournment of the House in order to call attention to a riot that had taken place in Manchester in connection with a procession of the unemployed which had been attacked by the police.
said the only Motion the hon. Member could make while he was in the Chair was to report Progress, but such a Motion for the purpose of calling attention to the matter mentioned by the. hon. Member could not be accepted, as it was not germane to the Vote under discussion.
§ MR. KEIR HARDIE
sail he would call attention to the matter after Questions to-morrow, and ask leave to move the adjournment of the House.