HL Deb 04 May 1871 vol 206 cc134-49

When I moved last Session for a Committee to inquire into the management of the Mint, I stated that a Commission had been appointed to examine into the manner in which foreign Mints were conducted. That Commission has since reported, and it is signed by Mr. Fremantle; but as his Report is founded mainly on the Reports of the other two Commissioners, Mr. Roberts, the chemist, and Mr. Napier, the engineer, I shall refer to those Reports, because, although the Report of the Deputy Master of the Mint contains many suggestions having a very plausible appearance when thoroughly examined and tested your Lordships will see that the adoption of those recommendations would be attended by very serious consequences, which all of us would deplore, especially that suggesting the setting up of new buildings for the Mint on the Thames Embankment, which, I believe I can show, are by no means required. When last year I spoke of the appointment of Mr. Roberts as chemist to the Mint, as partaking of the nature of "a job," I rather disparaged his capabilities as a chemist. I see no reason to retract the charge I then made; but I find he is now appointed assayer to the Mint, at an additional salary of £500 a-year. His very slight acquaintance with chemistry and metallurgy showed this; for, although that knowledge was acquired during a very short stay in the laboratory of Dr. Percy—whose chief assistant, Mr. Smith, instructed him, and who would have been the right man in the right place if he had been ap- pointed to the office—Mr. Roberts' experience was not sufficient to justify his appointment to so important an office as chemist or assayer to the Mint. When last I drew attention to this subject the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Lansdowne), who was the mouthpiece of the Mint, stated that Mr. Roberts was a very eminent chemist, who had proved his capability by discovering a method of depriving brittle gold of its obnoxious properties. I was certainly very much surprised to hear that this gentleman had discovered a new method, and concluded he must be a Heaven-born genius; but, on inquiry, I found that this new system, for the discovery of which he claimed credit, was contained in the discovery made by Dr. Percy some years before, and published by him in the Transactions of the British Association in 1848, and in the Philosophical Magazine, in 1850. Plattner carried it out practically, about 1852, in Silesia; and in January, 1856, a long series of experiments upon it were carried out for the Chancellorsville Gold Mining Company. And the exact process said to be devised by Mr. Roberts, was patented by Mr. Miller, the very talented assayer of the Sydney Mint, in 1867. Now, I wonder it did not occur to Mr. Roberts to consult Mr. Miller as to how far he had carried this process into effect. He would have found, if he had done so, that Mr. Miller had carried out the invention only to a small extent, indeed his use of the system was confined to the extracting of the silver from the gold in Australia, because the profit arising from the sale of the silver was worth the expense of the process. The plan was never adopted for dealing with brittle gold. Possibly Mr. Roberts has found the process very effective in the laboratory; but we all know that while a process may be carried on very effectively in miniature, the same process, conducted on a large scale, will very often prove an utter failure. This is abundantly shown in dealing with sewage, for while a chemist in his laboratory can extract ammonia from it, the same process, conducted on a large scale, is quite unprofitable. I find, in the last Report made by Mr. Roberts, that he describes what he calls "the success" he has met with in adopting this method of treatment. He says there were 69,000 ozs of brittle gold; but it seems that only 300 ozs of this were treated by Mr. Roberts in accordance with his new plan; the rest was dealt with in the old fashion—that is, by re-melting. I have stated that 69,000 ozs of gold was brittle, and by this I mean that 69,000 ozs of brittle gold were returned to the Bank from the Mint because it was brittle. That, however, does not represent the whole of the gold which has been carelessly coined, because much of that is absorbed by what is called the "carrying-off" or "sliding-off" process. By this process, one part of brittle gold and three parts of good gold are combined, and in this way much of the good gold is rendered brittle and unfit for coining. The next point to which I shall refer is the loss, and to this your Lordships should pay particular attention. Mr. Roberts states that the loss arises from volatilization, in combination with copper or other more volatile metals. But this shows remarkable ignorance upon the part of Mr. Roberts, because anybody who knows anything of melting gold, knows it will not volatilize by the heat at which it is melted in the Mint. So impressed, however, was Mr. Roberts with this volatilization principle, that he goes to Rome, one of the smallest Mints in the world, for information on the subject, because he says this question of volatilization has received much attention there, and he tells us that— The flues of the gold-melting furnaces have been placed in communication with condensing chambers of simple construction, the adoption of which has been attended with very satisfactory results. He recommended that the same plan be adopted here; but the idea of the gold going up the chimney—the explanation given last year by the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the loss—was exploded long ago. The chimnies of the Brussels Mint, for instance, were examined, and no trace of gold was found in them. If there were any truth in the theory, it would be very profitable to pull down the chimnies of the Mint and examine the bricks, because, according to Mr. Roberts, we should find at least some part of the £15,000 that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Mr. Roberts state has gone up them. The fact is, the heat is not sufficient to volatilize the gold; and if these very able gentlemen would learn that no single particle of gold could be legitimately lost in minting, then they would set about inquiring how this amount of gold disappears so mysteriously; and they would discover, if they went the right way to work, that it did not go up the chimney. Mr. Roberts's next recommendation is, that gas should be used for melting gold; but, as we all know that the use of a product of a mineral is more expensive than the use of the mineral itself, it does not require much technical knowledge to show that this would result in extravagance, rather than in economy. At Woolwich, near which place I am now residing, they have found the use of hydro-carbon vapours more efficient than coke. A point of this description requires very careful consideration. But the most important suggestion made by Mr. Roberts is the removal of the Mint to the Thames Embankment. I trust the other House of Parliament will not allow any building at all to be put up there, and, least of all, the Mint, because it would certainly be a perfect nuisance to the whole neighbourhood. We may guess what it would be, when I am told Mr. Roberts nearly suffocated many of the officers of the Mint, by trying his new process for dealing with brittle gold; and if the melting is to be done by gas, it will be necessary to put up a gasometer and gas furnaces, to secure a sufficient supply. Besides this, Mr. Roberts proposes to treat the sweep by Crookes's sodium amalgamation process, in the same way that it is treated in the gold mines—that is, by the use of mercury. The mercury unites with the gold, and when afterwards heated the mercury escapes. Imagine the noise of the Mint associated with a gasometer and the evolution of mercury fumes. Everyone knows that the effect of this would be to salivate people. Mr. Roberts also recommends that we should seriously consider the propriety of using clay muffles, as if this was a new idea; but they are already used in London, Sidney, and, as Mr. Napier states, in many other places. Indeed, had he studied his companion's Report he would have known this to be the fact, and that it was quite unnecessary to take the suggestion "into consideration." This shows how little he knows of the subject of which he treats. He also deals with the drying process, and says— The use of sawdust is objectionable, as minute particles frequently adhere to the blanks, and materially interfere with the accuracy of the impression. I do not believe he could really have found this to be the case; it is pure imagination. To overcome the supposed difficulty he recommended the use of closed vessels, heated externally, for drying. As regards blanching, the Deputy Master of the Mint says— I have received, with much satisfaction, the expression of Mr. Roberts's opinion, that the process of blanching may, as far as gold coin is concerned, be discontinued without detriment to the appearance of the coin. It is this process which leads to the deterioration of standard found to exist in gold coin, which has been for some length of time in circulation, and in consequence of their Lordships' decision, that light gold coin shall for the future be received by the Mint for re-coinage, the question becomes at this moment one of peculiar importance. Now, what is the plan proposed by Mr. Roberts, or rather the plan which he has adopted. As a matter of fact, his new process results in a less durable coin. I should have thought he would have known that gold and copper do not combine chemically, but mix mechanically, so that when the alloy is heated, the copper, possessing greater power of volumetic expansion, comes to the surface and soon wears off. The Deputy Master seemed to be in error in saying that the new process was not detrimental to the coin, for the bad appearance of the new gold coinage had become matter of notoriety through various letters which have been published in the newspapers. I will read one which appeared in The Globe on the 1st of February. The writer says— I was glad to see in The Globe a few remarks on the newly coined St. George sovereigns. These coins, bearing a beautiful device, executed, I believe, by the great Pistrucchi, are the most disgraceful specimens of manufacture that ever proceeded from a modern Mint. Being at a banker's a few days since, and seeing on the counter a number of them of a very dusky ungolden hue, I asked what was the matter with them? The clerk replied that the bank had received them from the Mint in that state as all right, and he therefore supposed they were the results of new ideas, picked up by the Mint Commissioners on their Continental tour last year; but, he added, in the old days of the Moneyers such things would never have been issued. And yet, my Lords, the Deputy Master of the Mint is so satisfied with Mr. Roberts's great talent that his suggestions are adopted off hand. With regard to loss Mr. Roberts states, apparently to the satisfaction of the Deputy Master of the Mint, that— The metallurgical treatment of the precious metals is attended with unavoidable loss. I propose, firstly, to consider the amount of this loss; and, secondly, the cause to which it is due. In the English Mint the amount of loss on gold-melting is considered to be 0.173 per mille, or one grain on the troy pound. The apparent loss on silver-melting, under the new arrangements of the melting-house, is two grains on the troy pound, or 0.346 per mille, much of the metal being recoverable from sweep. The officers of the English Mint consider that the loss on the gold coinage will, for the future, certainly not exceed £200 on a coinage of £1,000,000, or 0.2 per mille. Speaking of the cause of loss, he says— The loss which arises from melting gold may be caused by volatilization in combination with copper, or other more volatile metal. But what has been the average loss during the last three years? It has been £464 per year, and yet Mr. Fremantle states that— Careful inquiry has been made as to the loss by melting incurred in foreign Mints, the result of which tends to show that in all Mints considerable allowance is made for such loss, and the 'waste' shown to have existed of late years in the English Mint has not been excessive. Mr. Roberts himself says the loss ought not to exceed 0.173 per mille; we know it has exceeded £464 a-year during the last three years; and Mr. Fremantle says this is not excessive. Now, the recommendation to remove the Mint to the Thames Embankment is accompanied by an estimate. The cost is put down at £80,000; but we all know what an estimate is, and taking the new machinery into account, we may safely say the cost would not be less than £150,000. So that it was not only proposed to create a nuisance on the Embankment, but to spend a large sum of money in the act. That the change is unnecessary can be clearly ascertained from a study of the present Mint, which is quite well adapted for all purposes; and as for Mr. Napier's proposal to introduce new machinery, though perfectly natural as coming from an engineer, the recommendation is equally out of place. Mr. Napier proposes a rolling machine instead of the "draw bench," which Mr. Fremantle acknowledges to be a perfect piece of machinery. Mr. Napier also suggests a machine for reducing the weight of heavy blanks, and supports his suggestion by saying that other Mints think the expense of employing from 200 to 300 men is warranted by the saving they effect in reducing the blanks. He proposes to have a machine which will file and weigh at the same time; but practical men who have no machine to sell say this kind of machine will not answer in every-day work, but that each operation should be performed by a separate machine, or, if one is out of order, both operations are stopped. It is true, machinery would be very useful for this purpose; but some time ago a Vote was obtained, during Mr. Graham's time, for this identical machine, although the money was never devoted to the purpose, and the reason will be found in a letter written by Mr. Graham on the 7th of June, 1860, in which he says— I may be allowed to call to your recollection that a Parliamentary grant of £1,100 was obtained by the Mint in 1856 for the purchase of two automaton filing and adjusting machines, which it was proposed to have constructed by Messrs. D. Napier and Sons, the eminent engineers. No part of this grant has been appropriated. Why not? Because he says— A machine of a much more simple character was contrived by Mr. R. Pilcher, of the weighing room, and was constructed in the Mint with no assistance from without. Pilcher's adjusting machine has proved sufficiently effective, costs nothing for labour, and has now been in constant operation for two years. The cost of making a pair of machines such as we now possess is estimated at £60, a sum which was saved to the public by the mode in which the work was executed. The machine, therefore, seems to be not only simple and effective, but cheap; unfortunately, however, it was destroyed by Mr. Graham's brother in a drunken fit, and now there is no such machine at work. I will now shortly refer to the Report of the Deputy Master of the Mint, who recommended, as I have said, the removal of the Mint to the Thames Embankment. To enable me to judge of the capabilities of the present Mint I have obtained a history of it, and find that it was specially designed by Smirke; and Messrs. Boulton and Watt, who had a Mint at Soho, sent competent men, thoroughly well acquainted with what was required for coinage, to advise as to the construction of the building, and the placing of the machinery when it was completed. No doubt the building was larger than is required; but part of it is let for £500 a-year. Why, then, cannot improvements be made in the present building? I am informed that a few alterations would make the present Mint one of the most compact in the world. It is no more inconvenient to the Bank of England—and they alone are concerned—to send to the Mint on Tower Hill than it would be to the Mint on the Thames Embankment. But there is another reason advanced in support of the removal. The Deputy Master complains, and with reason, that his time is taken up travelling between the Treasury and the Mint; and it would, no doubt, be convenient both for the Master and the Deputy Master to have the office at the West-end instead of the East-end of London. But is the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be always Master of the Mint? if so, I cannot conceive of a more objectionable arrangement. Either the Master or the Deputy Master should be a practical man, and not both amateurs, learning their business at the expense of the country. I trust the House of Commons will not allow the Thames Embankment to be built upon, or, at least, that it will not allow it to be defiled by such a nuisance as the Mint would be. There is yet another Report to which I should call attention. It is called the "First Annual Report of the Deputy Master of the Mint." It has been made up of extracts from various sources, among others, from Mr. Ansell's book on the Mint, which has been very largely quoted. Perhaps, if they had seen the third edition of the work, it would have been still more largely used. But there are statements in this Report which are absolutely fallacious. The Deputy Master states that the proposal to treat all sweep in the Mint, instead of selling it as heretofore, would be advantageous to the Mint, because it would enable the Department— To substitute a real for a fictitious statement of 'waste,' the regulation of the public service not allowing the proceeds of the 'sweep,' when sold to the public, to be brought to account as a set-off against the gross amount of loss. That, however, is totally inconsistent with the truth, because the sweep is accounted for in the Returns No. 30, 1870, moved for by myself. But I have a more serious charge to bring against the Master and Deputy Master of the Mint, such as I never expected public men would have laid themselves open to. This First Annual Report of the Deputy Master of the Mint, while it fails to give the Returns for which I moved, or to continue them, contains copies of the Return No. 262, 1869—a false Return, and apparently intended to support the statement made by the noble Marquess, that the silver coinage was a source of profit to the country. The other Returns show there was a dead loss of upwards of £5,000. Now, one or other of these Returns must be false. In proof of this, let us take the first item in each Return, which should be absolutely identical. In the first Return, signed by Mr. Graham, we read that the real cost or value of metal in 1860 was £222,981 1s. 6d.; the same item is put down in the Return, dated 1870, and signed C. W. Fremantle, as £141,112 7s. 11d. The first Return shows a loss on the silver coinage of that year of £4,577 14s. 6d.; the second makes this loss appear to be a profit of £77,290 19s. 1d. Now, which is it—a loss or a profit?


May I ask from what you are reading?


I am reading from the Return made by Mr. Graham on the 19th of April, 1869, and that by Mr. Fremantle on the 31st May, 1870, headed "An account of all gold, silver, and copper moneys of the Realm coined at the Mint, for each year from the 1st of January, 1859 to the 31st of December, 1868, &c." The second Return carries on the Return to the year 1869. The first Return is No. 157; the second is No. 262, and both are made to the order of the Secretary to the Treasury. The totals of the value of the silver coined agree perfectly; but the totals of the real cost, or value of metal, have all been changed. The Report further shows that £171,269 16s. 2d. was paid to the Exchequer as seigniorage, while the loss by re-coinage amounted to only £153,593 10s. 1d., leaving a total profit of £17,676 6s. 1d. What has become of the difference between this profit and that in the amended Return? That profit during the years 1860 to 1868 amount to £1,011,668; but, in the year 1869, there was a loss of £58,655, so that the actual profit shown by Mr. Fremantle's Return is £935,013. What has become of it? Every year the House of Commons has been voting money to make good the losses on the mintage, and here is a profit of nearly £1,000,000 gone—no one knows where. In the face of the country, therefore, I say you are bound to institute an inquiry, if for no other purpose than to see how it came to pass that we have Returns presented to us showing results diametrically opposed to each other. These Returns have been submitted to the first bankers and accountants in the City and none of them could explain how these figures had been so perverted as to show results the exact opposite to each other. Here are the Returns; they can be examined by any noble Lord for himself and only two conclusions can be drawn from them, either that the latter Return has been falsified, or that the former was inaccurate, and that the profit was really made. If the former is the case the Return should be amended; if the latter, where is the profit? However the case may be as regards these Returns, it is quite clear that if the Master of the Mint and the Deputy Master understood their business such discrepancies would not have occurred. They appear to be ignorant of what goes on in the Mint if we may judge from the Deputy Master's Report, for the only persons he quotes are Mr. Roberts and Mr. Napier; and none of the officials of the Mint appear to have been examined. Whether it is they think they cannot trust them I do not know; but surely they would do wisely if before making an official Report they made up for their want of experience by consulting practical men. I am quite sure that Mr. Graham would not have made such a Report, nor would he have issued an obviously false Return. It is impossible to believe that these men whose want of experience is notorious could have suddenly detected an error in the Returns made during the last eight years; such a supposition is a slur upon Mr. Graham. Under all the circumstances, and upon the most liberal construction of what appears upon the face of the case, an inquiry would be most desirable, and I, therefore, beg to move the Resolution.

Moved, That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the past and present management of the Royal Mint, and to consider the last Report of the Deputy Master of the Mint, as well as that on European Mints; and how far it is expedient, considering the state of the public revenue, to incur the expense of £80,000 for new buildings for the Mint, although, as stated in the Report, these may be so constructed as to guard against loss of metal and diminish opportunities of peculation.—(The Lord Kinnaird.)


I wish to make a few remarks on this subject, lest I and those who sit on this side of the House should be supposed to approve the course adopted by the noble Lord, who has not at all convinced me that there is any necessity for a Select Committee to inquire into the past and present management of the Royal Mint. The Report of the Deputy Master in 1870, which has been presented to both Houses of Parliament, is the best reason that could be given for the refusal of the Committee in question. That Report has been drawn up with the greatest care, and anyone who peruses it impartially can come to no other conclusion than that the Motion of the noble Lord is, to say the least, inopportune, and by no means necessary. I wish to protest against two or three remarks which have escaped the noble Lord—I hope inadvertently—towards the close of his speech. One of the reasons he alleged for the appointment of this Committee was that we might inquire into the Report which the noble Lord described to have been concocted by the Master and Deputy Master of the Mint. Everybody who knows those two gentlemen must be sensible that it is an insult to them to say that they have concocted a Report. Again, the noble Lord alleges that the moving of the Mint from Tower Hill to some place near the river was suggested by the authorities, not for the public benefit, but to suit the convenience of the Master and Deputy Master, who wished to have their offices at the West-end. Now, this is a motive which ought not be attributed to gentlemen holding such offices, unless it could be thoroughly substantiated. I do not wish to stand forward in support of any branch of Her Majesty's Government; but I cannot refrain from entering my protest against the charges which the noble Lord has made against the gentlemen in question.


It has fallen to my lot on more than one occasion to address a few words to your Lordships on this subject, but I am conscious of having done so under some difficulty, inasmuch as I could not pre- tend to that technical knowledge which discussions respecting the currency and its coinage required in order to do them justice. On the other hand, in all these matters there are certain broad facts and conclusions which may be legitimately drawn from the facts, even by one who does not pretend to any technical or scientific knowledge, and those facts and conclusions I will now endeavour to state. Another difficulty under which I labour is that the noble Lord always begins by impugning the veracity of all the information placed within my reach, and therefore I am at a very great disadvantage in attempting to answer the noble Lord's allegations. It may simplify the explanation I have to give if I recapitulate one or two points in connection with the coinage to which I have already at different times made reference. As your Lordships are aware, anybody has a right to "import" gold to the Mint, and to obtain in return an equivalent weight of gold coins. That right, however, is but rarely exercised, because the public, as a rule, find it more convenient to go to the Bank and get gold or notes paid over the counter instead of waiting until the Mint has coined the gold they have presented. Tour Lordships will perceive that there cannot possibly be any gain to the Mint on the coinage of gold, and therefore the object of the authorities is to make the loss which is inevitable as small as possible. The loss has varied at different times, but has been steadily declining until it now amounts only to about one part in 2,000, or, in other words, to 1s. in every £100. That loss is so small that any private firm would be glad to arrive at a similar result. There are a great number of different operations involved in converting gold into sovereigns, and in consequence of having sometimes to repeat these operations the loss is sometimes more and sometimes less. The proper way, however, is to take the result, not of one particular operation, but of the whole of the operations, in order to form a fair estimate of the way in which the Mint machinery does its work. Upon the silver coinage there is a gain. A sum amounting to £15,000 is annually voted in order to withdraw from circulation the defective silver coinage of the realm. But, on the other hand, as every coin having the nominal value of a shilling is, in reality, worth less, there is a corresponding gain. As to the complaint that that gain does not appear, the reason is that any sum received on this account as seigniorage is paid into the Exchequer at once, the Mint has nothing to do with it. There is a similar gain on the copper coinage, the penny being worth only about one-fourth of its value as copper. I now come to the Motion which the noble Lord has made, and I will take his points seriatim. In the first place, what can be the object of an inquiry into the past management of the Royal Mint? The very fact that Her Majesty's Government has determined upon the re-organization of the Mint, that they have revised the establishment, are improving its machinery, and propose to alter its site, that the late chief officer in charge of the Mint is dead and gone, and has been succeeded by another, all point to the conclusion that such an investigation would be mere brutum fulmen. Then as to an inquiry into the present management, surely it is entitled to a trial; it is on its probation. Since the present Deputy Master came into office there has been only one gold coinage, and I am in possession of information which enables me to say that the results are of a peculiarly satisfactory character. When these results are before the House the noble Lord can call attention to them if he should deem it necessary. With regard to the visit of the present Deputy Master to the Continental Mints, with which the noble Lord has found great fault, saying that it could not be justified, I cannot do better than read a passage of the Report, page 45, in justification of what has been done. Mr. Fremantle says— In proposing to their Lordships that I should be authorized to visit the principal Mints of Europe, with a view of ascertaining what special arrangements in force abroad it might be advisable to introduce into the Mint in this country, I was in a great measure influenced by the opinion that the progress made of late years by the British Mint in the practical application of scientific knowledge to questions of Mint management had not kept pace with the advances which have been made by Mints abroad; and the information gained during the inspection undertaken in conformity with their Lordships' directions convinced me that that opinion was well founded. To many Continental Mints laboratories are attached, in which not only the business of assaying is conducted with its latest and most important improvements, but experiments are constantly in progress bearing upon other questions affecting the interest or efficient management of the establishment. I cannot but think that if those to whom the management of the Mint in this country is to be intrusted had taken it upon themselves to say that the mechanical appliances at their command were incapable of improvement, they would have been guilty of an unjustifiable neglect of duty in assuming without proof the superiority of their own instruments over those in use by all other nations. On the contrary, they are bound to try to find out what is good in foreign Mints, and to introduce any improvements they may discover into our own. And now I will say a few words as to the noble Lord's objections to the transfer of the site to the Embankment. In the first place, the noble Lord holds out the pleasant prospect that the people on the Embankment would be poisoned by the fumes which the Mint would exhale. Now, I have it upon the best authority that the presence of the Mint on the Embankment would not create any such nuisance. As to the existing site, anyone who has ever been at the Mint must have noticed that the buildings are very rambling, spreading over a space of about five acres. The sale of the site on Tower Hill would probably produce a sum large enough to defray the cost of the proposed site and of erecting a new Mint, and the noble Lord is therefore in error in supposing that the transfer would involve a heavy expense to the national Exchequer. The concluding words of the noble Lord's Motion were very objectionable. They were a gratuitous insult to a large class who have shown a great desire to maintain the integrity of their Department entirely above suspicion. With reference to the noble Lord's observations on the chemist of the Mint, I may state that Mr. Roberts was for many years assistant to the late Master, whose scientific attainments were beyond dispute, and that he is a pupil of Dr. Percy, whose reputation extends beyond this country. It will be time enough to complain of Mr. Roberts when he fails to do his duty as chemist to the Mint. I think I have now touched on the majority of the points to which the noble Lord has referred. On some points it is impossible for me to follow the noble Lord, who has quoted figures from a Return which I believe has not yet been laid before the House, but which, I have no doubt, will bear explanation. I can only express my great regret that the noble Lord should have thought it necessary to employ very strong language in criticizing the management of a Department which I believe will bear the fullest examination. Upon these grounds I will ask your Lordships not to agree to the noble Lord's Motion.


The noble Marquess has said that the words of my Motion convey an imputation on the officers of the Mint; but those words to which he alludes were taken from the Deputy Master's Report, which says— The distribution of Mint works over too large a space of ground necessarily involves much difficulty of supervision, and the employment of a considerable staff of officers and foremen; it increases also the labour of moving the metals under operation, and may afford opportunities of peculation which ought not to exist. With respect to the noble Lord's remark as to the present buildings covering a large space, I beg to point out that these separate rooms were built designedly by able men, that each man should be responsible for his own department, and that in case of loss from coining or melting the loss should be traced. As regards the visit to Foreign Mints, I do not say that it was not desirable to some extent; but I venture to think more valuable information might have been obtained by a visit to Birmingham, where coining is carried on by contract. I see the Deputy Master of the Mint claims great credit for having spent only £500 on those inquiries, instead of the £2,000 taken in the Vote. No doubt the inquiry was curtailed by the war; but he omits to mention the £1,000 admitted by the noble Marquess to have been paid to Mr. Napier. I still maintain that Report to be a delusion, and that it should be inquired into; but, as I see there is little chance of succeeding in my Motion, I trust the noble Lord will make it his business to examine the Returns, because it is impossible to allow the statements I have made, and made advisedly, to remain unanswered in Parliament.


observed, that the noble Lord had attacked in unmeasured terms public servants who had no opportunity of replying. Attacks of that kind, unsupported by evidence, were neither conducive to the efficiency of the public service nor to the credit of the House.

On Question? Resolved in the Negative.