§ The House resolved itself into Committee of Supply.
§ On the Vote that 165,373l. be granted to defray the charge of salaries, allowances, and contingencies in the Ordnance Establishments in the United Kingdom and the Colonies.
§ MR. HUME
said, he should not oppose this vote on the present occasion. He wished to point out the immense importance of the Government making up their minds before Parliament met again for the adoption of some determinate course with respect to the colonies. The charge on the estimates for stores for the colonies was most extravagant. If Her Majesty's Ministers would act upon the principles laid down in the letter of Earl Grey on the subject of responsible government in Canada, they might get rid of a large portion of the military expenditure in the colonies, and more especially as regarded ordnance stores and fortifications. It was much better to put expenses of this kind on the colonies, for by this means the country would save a large expenditure. He was sorry to find that the arrangement recommended by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon in 1833, with regard to naval stores, had not been carried out, for there was now an immense accumulation of them. He could tell the noble Lord he would be compelled to reduce the public expenditure next year; and if he did not do so, somebody would be found to 516 supply his place to do so. He knew that the Colonial Department wished to keep up the expenditure; but the time had arrived when a change was imperatively necessary. The amount of the expense of gunpowder for salutes was enormous, and must be got rid of. As it was, a bishop could not go from place to place in a colony without being received with a royal salute, as if he was a member of the Church militant. He had given notice of a Motion for a return of the expense of gunpowder wasted in Royal salutes, but he had been persuaded not to persist in his intention; but he must urge upon the Government the propriety of effecting a reduction in this respect. Then, again, what necessity was there for the review at Chatham on Saturday next, which would cost many thousand pounds? [Colonel ANSON: No!] He had received a letter which stated that it would cost at least 20,000l.; but even if it only cost 5,000l. it was so much money thrown away. It appeared also that the cost of projectiles in the three years, 1833, 1834, and 1835, was 3,321l, while this charge for the three years, 1846, 1847, and 1848, amounted to 36,128l, which was not less than a twelvefold increase. Then, again, the cost of the modern shell was not less than 11s. 3½d., while the projectile for which this shell had been substituted, would have cost only 4s. 4d. Everything in connexion with the military establishments appeared to be carried on on a war scale, instead of a period of peace. He was awoke every morning by the noise of drums and fifes, as if London was in a state of siege. He complained that the noble Lord at the head of the Government did not take upon himself the responsibility of checking the extravagant expenditure of the various departments of the State, instead of leaving it to their discretion. He should not propose any reduction in this vote, but be must protest against the enormous and useless expenditure on stores.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, that some of the general principles upon which the hon. Gentleman had suggested reductions, had before been brought under his notice. Objections had previously been made to salutes—and especially to the episcopal salutes to which his hon. Friend had referred—and he (Lord J. Russell) did not mean to deny that some further economy might be practised in that respect. The hon. Member for Montrose, however, never took notice of any changes made in the way of economy. He (Lord J. Russell) 517 remembered that, during the war, whenever a Peer of the realm went on board a man-of-war, a salute was fired in honour of the event. Now, these and many other salutes had been abandoned; and he thought this circumstance showed that there had been a disposition to reduce unnecessary expenditure, though he did not deny that further reductions might advantageously be made. The hon. Member fur' Montrose had said that he might suppose he was living in a time of war, from the constant noise of drums and fifes by which he was annoyed. Mr. Burke, however, entertained a different taste, for he stated that one of his reasons for regretting the loss of his office of Paymaster of the Forces was, that he had no longer the opportunity of hearing the music of the troops in the Park, which he considered a very agreeable sound. But, putting aside that matter of taste, he thought the hon. Member for Montrose was too much in the habit of regarding all sums expended upon military and naval defences as lost, because this country happened to be at peace with other nations. Now, his hon. Friend very often compared the affairs of the State to those of private individuals; and he would ask the hon. Gentleman what he would think of the wisdom of a merchant of the city of London, who might say, "I have very valuable articles in my warehouse; for thirty years I have been at the expense of keeping a watchman; he has cost me 1,500l. during that time; my property has always been perfectly safe, and therefore, I think the money has been entirely thrown away, and I won't keep a watchman any longer. He did not think a person who so acted would be regarded as pursuing a very wise or prudent course of economy, although it might be perfectly true, as he had had a watchman on his promises, that his property had never been plundered. He believed that that was just the case of this country, and he was by no means clear that if they had been entirely defenceless they would have continued in as peaceable a state as they had happily experienced during the last thirty years. He would not enter into any details with respect to the stores. His hon. Friend had truly said that the Treasury were responsible for those matters; and he (Lord J. Russell) did not deny that responsibility. He did not deny that it was his duty to consider the report of the Committee during the recess, and at the next meeting of Parliament, either to justify the several items to which excep- 518 tion had been taken, or to discontinue such expenditure. With regard to the question of taxation, the right hon. Member for Stamford had stated on a former occasion that since the conclusion of the war the balance between taxes repealed or reduced, and taxes imposed, had been in favour of reduction to the amount of 39,000,000l., and this statement had not been contradicted.
MR. VERNON SMITH
, adverting to the efforts of the hon. Member for Montrose, said, that no one had done more for the cause of economy than that hon. Member; but he rather frittered a way a good cause, as when he concluded his speech by introducing the subject of saluting the bishops. There was undoubtedly a great case for economy, and his noble Friend at the head of the Government did not deal with it fairly, when he put the case of a private individual who, having kept a watchman for a number of years, dismissed him at last because his property was safe and untouched. The Government had kept up an amount of stores calculated for the two years' expenditure of the last European war. On what principle did they mean to keep up that stock? Did they mean to keep up sufficient to exterminate the whole of Europe? It was the amount which they had at the close of the last European war. Could any war break out, on that immense scale, suddenly? His noble Friend was himself the watchman, and he put it to him whether it would not have been better that, during the 30 years of peace, we had not kept these stores, but had paid for them when they were wanted? They would have been bought at an enormous expense he granted, but not at such an enormous expense as the expense of the stores we had kept. The hon. Member for the West Riding had stated the other day that there were now six and a half millions of stores in our possession. This was not all; there was the expense of the stores, of warehouses, of establishments, the waste of perishable materials, and not only this, but there was, in the present state of civilisation, always something new coming out, which made all the old stores absolutely useless. The improvement of detonating locks made flint and steel useless. The new armaments made the old armaments useless. Some new improvements might arise in another two years; therefore, it was impossible to exaggerate the mischief of keeping an enormous amount of stores, and that would 519 be the case as long as the Treasury abstained from interfering; and it was important that the control of the Committee should be most strict and vigilant in every individual case. He ventured to say this the more strongly, because, although it had been constantly repeated in the reports of the Committee, it had been constantly disregarded. He hoped that his noble Friend, as the watchman of the public expenditure, would take care that this control was not hereafter neglected. There were enormous difficulties in establishing this control, not so much at home, but in the colonies; and one of the most important points to which they could turn their attention was the question of colonial expenditure. The hon. Member for Montrose said, that the Colonial Office was always anxious to keep the colonies in leading strings. This was an expenditure which the colonies were very willing the mother country should advance for them; but what he wanted was, that they should take care of the desire of the colonies to get out of leading strings, and tell them that the only way of getting out of that control was to take on themselves the manly course of defending themselves. That was the bargain they should make with any of their colonies. If they meant to maintain establishments in the colonies, it was difficult to maintain them and keep them down. They could only apply to the storekeepers themselves, who were interested in keeping up these stores. It was natural, these gentlemen might very reasonably say, that nothing was so essential as to keep up the amount of stores in the colonies. In Canada, they could make out a capital case—they could say that there might be a border warfare in Canada—that they were responsible for the stores being in hand and ready for use. Look at the case which occurred in 1846. There was alarm about the Oregon mountains. Immediately they set to work to multiply stores, and the fortifications were under-taken. The Ministry changed, and al; though at the expiration of the Ministry, the very last words which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth uttered were, "The Oregon question is at an end," the fortifications were not yet at an end, and the expenses were not at an end. If the noble Lord was not prepared to go the length of throwing on the colonies the expenses of their own defences, he hoped he would go the length of making them pay the expense of main- 520 taining troops and barracks. The establishment of barracks ought to be maintain-ed by the colonies themselves in all instances, where the colonies could be fairly called colonies. By some such proceeding as this, the noble Lord might fairly ascertain what stores could be reduced in the colonies. In many cases Government might, with considerable advantage, send out a local commission, limited in point of time and expense, but desired to report on the necessity of maintaining these establishments, and the enormous amount of stores. It was not to be expected that they could get such invaluable gentlemen to do this as had given their evidence before the Committee, but they might get persons independent of official control. He doubted whether it could otherwise be done in the colonies, because Government had only the means of obtaining the expenses from the storekeepers themselves. He was speaking entirely of the approaching Session, because he still entertained an opinion, that upon the present report it would be impossible for the Government to proceed. The general opinion of the noble Chairman and of most of the members of the Committee was, that they should not proceed this Session. He hoped that by that time Government themselves would have considered these questions.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
conceived that his right hon. Friend had misunderstood what had fallen from him. He had given no opinion as to the present expenditure, but his remarks applied to the general doctrine which the hon. Member for Montrose seemed to adopt, namely, because this was a time of peace they should make no preparation for a time of war. The question of stores was too large for him then to go into, and he should reserve the expression of opinion on it until he had examined well the subject. He certainly had never meant to say that the present amount of stores could not be reduced.
§ MR. HUME
said, that what be complained of was, that they should have large establishments from which they derived no benefit. If the noble Lord was a merchant of the city of London, and found one watchman capable of keeping his warehouse from being robbed, he (Mr. Hume) would accuse him of extravagance, if be found that in the following year he had added two or three watchmen more. Every Committee which had sat in the House, from Lord Castlereagh's in 1816, 1817, and 1819, to the Committees in 1825 and 521 1828, had recommended that they should have, during peace, the lowest possible establishments, in order that they might husband their resources, and be prepared, if necessary, for war; instead of which they were now going to the utmost of their tether, the Chancellor of the Exchequer not having any surplus,
said, that his experience, as a man of business, and from what be had seen of the evidence before the Committee, was, that Government was under a great delusion as to the way in which they carried on the manufacturing establishments in every branch of the service. They had no notion of what things cost when they manufactured themselves; the mode in which the parties having the superintendence made their report, was utterly fallacious, not worth one farthing. Take the case of powder. Gentlemen brought in a very detailed account before the Committee, to show that powder could be made at something less than it could be bought from a private dealer. He took the opportunity of questioning these gentlemen as to the mode in which they ascertained the cost of this powder. He found that nothing was put down for the cost of the plant; nothing was put down for the interest of houses or cottages connected with the plant; nothing was put down for the interest of the money embarked in the floating stock. There were 100,000 lbs. of saltpetre and brimstone—no account was taken of the interest of the money so invested. He thought the parties themselves were very well satisfied before they left the Committee that their calculations were fallacious; but he was strongly of opinion that there was nothing that could not be procured from private enterprise at a cheaper rate than Government could manufacture it. He could make no exception of gunpowder. It was said that it was necessary to have a manufactory to check the private manufacturer. He apprehended that that might be done by a laboratory. He maintained that you might have any thing by private enterprise, as good and as cheap as Government could manufacture it. There was another manufacture which you carried on; that of the brass ordnance. You said that you could not get brass ordnance that you could rely upon. He thought it was a great stigma on the character of brassfounders if such were the fact; but he doubted it. He believed that there was nothing which you could not have, if you gave a contract price for 522 it, and subjected it to competition; and he would recommend Government, in all cases, to endeavour, as much as possible, to cease to be manufacturers. On the Ordnance inquiry, he was astonished at the loose way in which this was carried on, and at the enormous expense of establishments for superintendents, they not having, frequently, the slightest knowledge of the work they were superintending. We were told that the Government were going to assist railways in taking stock. Before they did that, he recommended them to amend the mode of taking stock in their own establishments. One word as to the stores on hand; he would not dwell upon it, because the right hon. Member for Northampton had anticipated him in what he had to say. The number of the Ordnance establishments in England was thirty-five. That number was fixed before the present means of rapid communication existed, which now enabled ns to carry anything to any part of the kingdom in fourteen or fifteen hours; and it was the unanimous opinion of the Committee that great saving might be effected by diminishing the number of the Ordnance establishments; by doing what private dealers and merchants were doing—diminishing the quantity of stock, in consequence of the facility of recruiting stock, and also diminishing the number of stores where they kept stocks in consequence of the facility of getting stock from the central depot. With the electric telegraph and railways they might order any quantity of stock they liked from Woolwich or the Tower, and might get it to any part of Scotland in fifteen hours; and he did think, that to keep up storekeeper, deputy-storekeepers, and all that class of gentry, was unnecessary. This vote embraced all establishments in the colonies, and he concurred in the remarks which had been made by the right hon. Member for Northampton that that was a department to be looked into, if hon. Members who asked for a reduction in the expenditure were desirous to effect their object. It could only be done by going to that branch of the public service which the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark had lately brought under the consideration of the House—he alluded to the question of the colonies, and how they were to be governed. They were spending an enormous amount of money not only in their colonies, but also in their military establishments. Take Gibraltar—Gibraltar might 523 be iu the estimation of most people a very important military station, but every body would admit that the price paid for Gibraltar was too much. During the last twenty years we had expended an enormous sum in adding to the fortifications. Although they might not be military men, they would all agree, as civilians, that there was a point beyond which it was not worth going. Let him not be told that he wanted to dismantle Gibraltar—he was merely desirous to diminish the immense amount of expenditure. There was Hong-Kong; during the last four years we had spent on that pestiferous rock 123,000l. This reminded him of a passage in the writings of the late Sydney Smith, which, although written twenty years ago, seemed to be written on the present Government. He said—The world never yet saw so extravagant a Government as the Government of England. Not only is economy not practised but it is despised; and the idea of it connected with disaffection, Jacobinism, and Joseph Hume. Every rock on the ocean where a cormorant can perch is occupied by our troops—has a governor, deputy-governor, storekeeper, and deputy-storekeeper, and will soon have an archdeacon and a bishop. Military colleges, with thirty-four professors, educating seventeen ensigns per annum, being half an ensign for each professor, with every species of nonsense, athletic, sartorial, and plumigerous. A just and necessary war costs this country about one hundred pounds a minute; whipcord, fifteen thousand pounds; red tape, seven thousand pounds; lace for drummers and fifers nineteen thousand pounds; a pension to one man who has broken his bead at the pole: to another who has shattered his leg at the equator; subsidies to Persia; secret service money to Thibet; an annuity to Lady Henry somebody and her seven daughters, the husband being shot at some place where we never ought to have had any soldiers at all; and the elder brother returning four Members to Parliament—such a scene of extravagance, corruption, and expense, as must paralyse the industry and mar the fortunes of the most industrious spirited people that ever existed.He thought that applied with more force at the present moment, for we seemed to be seized with a mania that there could not be a barren rock on the earth's surface where it was not to our profit and advantage to go and plant, first of all, a body of forces, and then all the concomitant expenses of ordnance storekeepers. He need only point to Labuan. Last year the Secretary of State, before there was an inhabitant, took up his pen and brought before the House an establishment of 1,000 or 1,200 persons, consisting of postmaster, police officers, deputy-governor, and all the paraphernalia of a settled and civilised 524 dominion. With regard to the stores, he wished to point out one or two examples, which hon. Gentlemen would at once understand, and which confirmed the remarks made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton. To show the immense amount of stores we kept on hand, hon. Gentlemen would by-and-by receive an appendix to the report, with the evidence, and statistics, and details. We had in hand 142,000 pikes; we delivered out for use, 3,000. So that we had in hand a consumption of forty-seven years of pikes. We had 170,000 havresacks in store, perishable articles; we delivered out annually 7,000, and had twenty-four years' supply of havresacks. There were 24,000 kettles; we consumed 3,000 kettles a year, so that we had eight years' consumption of kettles. We had 1,200,000 sand hags in store, and delivered out 35,000, and had thirty-four years' supply of sand bags. These were all perishable stores. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton had stated to the House one of the evils arising from keeping this immense amount of stores, namely, that changes took place in the construction of arms, and that all the stock in hand would become obsolete. He would give an illustration of that. In the year 1835 we had 238 percussion muskets in store. We began in 1835 to adopt percussion muskets, but we had in store 448,000 flint muskets. The 448,000 flint muskets became superseded by the percussion muskets. It would not have been advisable to have had a flint musket in store at all, and notwithstanding we had been going on gradually adopting percussion muskets, still he found that we had now in store 165,000 flint muskets, and he believed 200,000 were burnt in the Tower. That was not all. We had from 30,000,000 to 40,000,000 of flint cartridges made up. We had 30,000,000 of flint cartridges now in store. These were not adapted for percussion muskets. This showed the absurdity of keeping up such an enormous amount of stores. Take the article of cannon. When we adopted the change of our armament, we found that the French began to adopt 32-pounders as the only calibre of guns to be used. Instantly your carronades and all your guns of small calibre were superseded. They had it in evidence that 20,000 cannons became useless by the adoption of this heavier armament. He was speaking of actual facts and statistics which they would all hare before them. It required no skill in 525 military knowledge to be able to deal with these facts; it only showed the worse than uselessness of keeping such large stores in hand. No private individual would do it. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton had said, constant discoveries were making. We had not arrived at the end of discoveries. He saw, from the newspapers, that in Prussia they had adopted a musket with a long range—500 yards—and he saw that experiments were being made at Chatham on that subject. If they should be adopted, all the store of muskets would be useless. Why did they keep such stores in this country with such mighty resources? There was nothing that you could not get in this country to almost any extent in two years; if you paid the price, you might get it in a very few months. It was hardly possible to conceive the amount of armament which might be got by private enterprise, if the Government only gave such a price as would divert the industry of the country into that channel; and was it not far more desirable that you should have to pay, when the time came, a little more for your stores, than that you should go on wasting the capital of this country by making what was not wanted? It was stated before the Committee by one of the witnesses, that if you chose to give him a small additional price, you might get 4,000 32-pounders in one week. It was clear that you might get 20,000 or 30,000 barrels of gunpowder in another, if you chose to pay a little extra price. What was the effect of keeping this enormous amount of stores? Last year the Chancellor of the Exchequer disposed of old stores to the amount of 480,000l. He did not say it was the Ordnance; and this year he had taken credit in the budget for a sum that amounted to 1,960,000l. He asked the House how much did that cost? He had no doubt that these stores cost 3,000,000l. at least. It was to prevent the necessity of these transactions that he wished Government to direct their attention to the necessity of keeping a much smaller stock of stores; and as to a remark of the right hon. Member for Northampton as to the course which Earl Grey was disposed to take on the colonies, he thought that when they found a Minister disposed to go in the right direction, they ought to encourage him in that course; and it would be found that Earl Grey had stated in his evidence his determination to begin with the Australian colonies; he had given notice to the 526 Australian colonies—that was to say, to South Australia, New South Wales, and Melbourne—that after the beginning of the next financial year, they must be prepared to take on themselves the barracks and ordnance stores, and supply the troops with stores in future. He thought that was a very good principle to begin with; but he thought the noble Lord might be encouraged to carry out that principle further, he thought it ought to be applied to Canada above all. There was a colony to which they had given independence to all practical purposes. What had they done? They had told the Canadians that they should regulate their own affairs; they had given them the power over their waste lands. The Government of Canada had the absolute control of the waste lands. They could put a tax on the emigrants from this country, as they did last year, to three times the amount of the emigrant tax paid at New York; and they positively had put on a prohibitory tax against English and Irish emigrants. One of the Ministers of Canada was now in this country negotiating a loan. They did not come to Parliament to ask for its authority. There was Canada in the market, negotiating on her own resources—on her own responsibility, without consulting England. No other part of this empire could raise one farthing without coming to this House for power to do so. Did he complain of this? No; he said that the only way in which you could keep the connexion which alone was useful between England and the colony, was to give to a community like that of Canada, with a population of 1,500,000 of people, the fullest amount of local self-government; but when he said that, whilst he was for the most perfect freedom ungrudgingly on the one hand, he said to them on the other, "You will allow us to act as in the case of an individual; when a young man rises to manhood, and sets up for himself, he can no longer expect that his aged parent should pay his expenses." Therefore, when he gave these helps, he asked it of the men of Canada, as men of spirit and honour, to except us from any further charge of their establishments. They were willing to do it, but they would not do it in our way. They were not willing to take our ordnance stores and undertake to keep them in the way in which we had kept them. He was speaking the other day to an eminent public man of Canada, and said, "Would you be prepared to take charge of the ordnance stores 527 in Canada? There are 650,000l of ordnance stores in Canada, kept up in half a dozen places for masters, and storekeepers, clerks, and the rest: would you be disposed to take those stores as at present, and keep them up?" He laughed in his face, and said, "Do you think we are going to keep up these stores in the way you keep them up? Two-thirds have been jobbing and waste." Then he spoke about the army, and said that if they kept an army, it would not be on the extravagant footing of England. They must be prepared to defend themselves, to keep up their military force for their own internal peace, and they must not expect us to pay a farthing. He laid that down as a principle which he was quite sure the country would be prepared to arrive at. He did not ask Earl Grey to say that he was going to do that; he only advocated it as a principle, that not one farthing of expense must ultimately be incurred for the military establishments of Canada. We had 8,000 troops in North America, where there were less than 2,000,000 of people. The United States had 9,000 troops with 20,000,000 of people, with a frontier of Indians whom the troops had to control. We had 650,000l. of ordnance stores. The American Government, if they kept up a similar proportion for 20,000,000 of inhabitants, would keep up something like 8,000,000l worth of stores; and he did not believe that the United States had a greater amount of stores in all their territories than we had in Canada. He felt quite sure that the country would expect (for they were only on the eve of this discussion) that before the next meeting of Parliament Government would be prepared to take steps to reduce the expenditure, and it could be mainly done in remodelling the armament. It does not do for the noble Lord to say, "Do not act as a private individual who would discharge the watchman who had prevented him from being attacked." What was complained of was this, that whilst the Government have been telling us, every year, that we were on the most friendly terms with foreigners, we have doubled the expenses of the Ordnance since 1835; we voted double the amount last year that was voted in 183–5; and, therefore, it is like the case of a merchant who after fifteen years doubled the number of his watchmen: it is not a question whether we are going to discharge the watchman. The noble Lord says that we have diminished the nominal rate of taxa- 528 tion to the amount of thirty-nine millions. He forgets that it was done by shifting the taxation, so that the old taxes have become much more productive. The question is not how we have shifted the taxation, but how much we have expended, and how much do we collect from the people. He must tell the noble Lord, as he told him before, that we were now collecting five millions more taxes than we did when the Duke of Wellington was Prime Minister, before the passing of the Reform Bill. He admitted the advantage of shifting the taxation. He concurred that by this scientific arrangement of taxation, which was created by Mr. Huskisson, the people of this country bear a larger amount of taxation than the people of any other country, and he attributed this to the scientific efforts made by those statesmen who shifted and changed the taxation of the country; but the burden remained; and the people wish to diminish the burden, and he could sec no reason why, before the next meeting of Parliament, the country should not expect a large reduction.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
, without complaining of the manner in which the hon. Gentleman had made his remarks, could not allow them to pass entirely without comment, because the question raised by the hon. Gentleman was not one which concerned the present Government, or any other Government in particular, but was a very important question as relating to the position of this empire. The hon. Gentleman began by saying that the inquiry before the Ordnance Committee had confirmed his anticipation, that for the Government to undertake the manufacture of any particular article was a very wasteful and extravagant course, and that it would be far better to go to private dealers for any stores which might be required. Upon this point, he quite admitted that the general rule should be contract with the private dealer, and that the onus probandi was on the Government, if they thought, that, with respect to any particular article, there would be a disadvantage in obtaining it from private dealers, and that it would be more convenient for the country to have a manufactory of its own. But, on the other hand, when the hon. Gentleman went on to say, with respect to some of these articles, which were essential for maintaining the defence of the country and its possessions in time of war, that there was no necessity to keep up stores of them because in two years the required 529 quantity could be produced by a private manufacturer, or because in course of time the stores might be superseded by some other invention, he thought the argument was carried to an extreme. If, upon a war breaking out, such as occurred after the peace of Amiens, and if, upon this country being placed in hostility with such a nation as France, or any other powerful State, the Minister should say to Parliament that such an insult had been offered to this country, and such an aggression made upon it, that it was impossible to remain at peace, but that he was sorry that he should not be able to oppose the aggression in less than two years; he thought the country would hold the Minister as greatly to blame if the country could not be in a state of defence in less than that time. With respect to the colonies, he likewise agreed with the hon. Gentleman in the general principle. The hon. Gentleman's principle was, with respect to the defence of our colonies, that great part of the expense of it, at all events, should be thrown on the colonies themselves. Earl Grey, on coming into his present office, adopted that principle as one which ought to be followed in future; and he (Lord J. Russell) should have no difficulty in concurring with the hon. Gentleman in that respect; for when he and the right hon. Member for Northampton were in the Colonial Office, there arrived an application for having the harbour of Sydney, in New South Wales put in a state of defence; and he said, as the right hon. Member for Northampton was aware, that with respect to the old defences there might be a difficulty in not proceeding with them, but with respect to Sydney the colonists should make those defences themselves. But he certainly might differ from the hon. Gentleman, if he were to push that principle, as he had others, to an extreme, applying it to a colony with respect to which this country had been accustomed to undertake the defences, and where we had fortifications, as at Quebec. If we were on a sudden to say to the province of Canada, for instance, "We mean no longer to undertake those defences, and that the troops and force necessary to defend the citadel of Quebec mnst in future be furnished by the province," he feared that such a declaration would be considered as an abandonment of the connexion with that colony: and the colonists might say, "It is true that we have got a representative constitution, but still we reckon the 530 province as part of the British empire; nevertheless, if we are to gain no advantage from the connexion, let us be totally independent of British connexion, and decide with what other country we shall be connected." He thought true wisdom consisted in steering between these extremes. He could not defend any unnecessary or wasteful expenditure, having too great an amount of stores, or making large and new fortifications in Canada; but, on the other hand, he thought that the course hitherto pursued should not be at once abandoned, and they should not give the colonies reason to believe that, if attacked, this country would not defend them. It should not, then, be expected that the Government were going in the next Session to adopt such a principle as might tend to cut short the connexion between the colonies and the mother country. There were large and important questions connected with the colonies, which the Government and the Parliament were bound to consider. The adoption of principles which put an end to colonial protection and monopoly—the adoption of various other measures, giving the colonies greater freedom and constitutional representation—all these had led to a new construction of the connexion between them and the mother country; and he believed that, if that transition were conducted with prudence, if nothing were abruptly done, and if it were shown, at the same time, that those new measures would be an advantage to the colonies and to the mother country, the connexion might be more firm and more strongly based than hitherto on the interests of both. In connexion with these subjects, he should be afraid of undertaking anything which might lead to the belief in the colonies that this country no longer cared about its colonial empire, and was utterly indifferent as to the nature of the connexion existing between it and its dependencies. The hon. Gentleman had been rather unfair in one remark in reference to the Colonial Secretary. The hon. Gentleman said that the Colonial Secretary took up his pen and created an establishment for a colony, without considering the consequences in the shape of annual charge to the country. With respect to one particular colony, the charge against his noble Friend at the head of the Colonial Department had been of an opposite nature. In reference to that island, his noble Friend said, "I am in favour of colonisation, but I will not undertake to bring forward any 531 expensive estimates for governor, storekeepers, and other officers;" and his noble I Friend had been more attacked for that than any other conduct. Equally unjust Was it to represent that cither his noble Friend or the Government wished to keep the colonies in leading strings; for all they wanted to do was to give them greater freedom and representative institutions. The whole question connected with the colonies would be maturely considered by the Government; and he hoped that the House, next year, would consider it with the view, on the one hand, of placing on this country no unnecessary expenditure; and, on the other, of endeavouring fairly, and with good will towards the colonies, to maintain the connexion, which was honourable both to them and to the mother country, and which, in his belief, tended not only to promote the greatness of this empire, but the cause of civilisation.
§ MR. COBDEN
trusted that the noble Lord did not imagine that he, as a man of business, could have contended that no stock of stores was necessary. All he had argued against was the excess, and yet the noble Lord had spoken as if he (Mr. Cobden) had argued against stores altogether. With regard to Earl Grey, he quite agreed with the First Lord of the Treasury, that in the case of Vancouver's Island, Earl Grey was anxious to save the public money; and, therefore, he (Mr. Cobden) had never joined in the attacks against his Lordship, although not perhaps thinking that the Hudson's Bay Company were the best governors that could have been selected. He might say generally that he had a high admiration, not only for the talents, but for the noble principles of Earl Grey. He had a high opinion of his Lordship's intelligence and understanding, and he looked to him for great and beneficial changes in our colonial system.
said, that as regarded the colonies, they could not introduce new principles at once, but that such things must be done by degrees, and by a gradual preparation for the changes. He had merely risen, however, to say a word as to the question of ordnance stores, to which he had already called the attention of the Committee which had been sitting upon these estimates. He was persuaded that till the Government should have devised some plan for placing the whole of the civil expenditure for the military defences of the country under one directing head, would they continue to hear the same com- 532 plaints on these subjects which still reached them. They had still the same accumulation there had ever been of military stores, under whose responsibility they scarcely knew; and the only remedy was to be found in the appointment of one directing head for the whole. He earnestly hoped that the attention of his noble Friend would be directed to this subject.
§ MR. HUME
said, that although the discussion had commenced and proceeded under the impression that they were at Vote No. 6, it seemed that they were really only at No. 4. Now, he wished to say a word on the subject of barracks, which was an item in that vote. The House was not aware of the large sums set aside for barracks. Very few of the recommendations made by the Committee that had sat upon the subject in 1828, had been attended to. The actual vote was more for the present year than ever it had been before. For the year 1835–36, it was 85,000l. for England, Ireland, and the colonies; for 1839–40, it was 89,000l.; for 1845–46, it was 160,000l; and now, for 1849–50, it was 163,000l, exactly double of what it was for 1835–36. But did the House know that 700,000l had been expended for new barracks since the period when the Committee had recommeaded a reduction under the entire head? In the town of Bolton alone, 137,000l. had been expended upon the erection of a single barrack. So long as they kept up their present extravagant number of troops with officers on full and half-pay exceeding all reason, and a staff at head-quarters beyond all precedent, those expenses would continue. The expense of staff officers at head-quarters at the conclusion of the former peace was just 2,500l; it now exceeded 38,000l. He had been charged with complaining of the number of artillery force as compared with the other troops; but it was not so. On the contrary, he thought there should be a largo proportion of artillery kept up, and that the reductions should be made in the other forces; because they could not get up artillerymen in less than eighteen months, whilst they Could drill and train troops of the line in a few weeks, and they ought to diminish the amount of other ordinary forces in order to keep up the scientific branch. He did not blame the present Government; he thought they were doing all they could. But it appeared to him that there was room for great economy. Having now called attention to the points 533 upon which he was desirous that attention: should be fixed, he had nothing further to add that would delay the votes being taken.
begged to be allowed to offer a few observations, as he really felt that, from the position he held in the House, it was necessary for him to do so. Everything that had been said by his noble Friend at the head of the Government with regard to the colonies and our establishments abroad, seemed to be satisfactory to the House. And by the next time that the Prime Minister met the Parliament some important steps would be found to have been taken towards altering the system upon which the colonies were managed. He (Colonel Anson) now wished to reply to those observations which related to the department with which he was connected, and he trusted that what he had to say would be found equally satisfactory with the speech of his noble Friend. In the first instance, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose seemed to have misunderstood him the other night, and to have supposed that he suggested incorrectness in the hon. Gentleman's statements. Nothing could have been farther from his intention. On the contrary, he knew that, from the hon. Gentleman's habit of attending to minute details, there was usually greater correctness to be found in his statements than in those of many other hon. Members. He meant merely to say that the hon. Gentleman had not his books before him, and he had therefore led the House to think that there was a greater amount of expenditure in the present than in any former year; that there was in the Ordnance department an advance of 1,800,000l. or thereabouts. Now the fact was, that there was a difference of 1,150,000l. between the estimate of expenditure in the present year, and that for the year 1835–6 and he wished to tell the hon. Gentleman and the House from what causes that increase had taken place. His (Colonel Anson's) was merely an executive department, and there had been imposed upon it the charge of additional services since 1835—services with which it was at that period unconnected—to the amount of 300,000l. a year. That reduced the actual difference in the expenditure to 800,000l. But that actual increase arose from the increase of our forces—[Mr. HUME: Hear, hear!]—and if the hon. Gentleman objected to the increase, let him take the opinion of the House upon 534 the question of reducing the Army. The increase in the simple pay of the artillery was 250,000l. Next came the vote for barrack supplies, which showed an increase of 80,000l. But if the number of troops were considered, it would be found that the proportionate cost was not greater per head than it was in 1835. The charge at home was actually 3,800l. less than it was in 1835; but there was a large increase abroad, because several new colonies had been acquired since that period. The whole amount of the increase was 12,800l. on the establishments—taking colonies and home together. The hon. Gentleman had compared the amount in 1835–6 (85,000l.) with the present estimate of 163,000l., and had complained of its being just doubled. It certainly appeared to be a great increase; but the hon. Gentleman did not tell them that which had come out in the evidence, and which was only another proof of how necessary it would have been, for the proper consideration of the question, that the evidence should have accompanied the report, namely, that there was an item under Vote 4, of 46,000l. which the Ordnance was desired by the Treasury in 1843 to pay, and which was not charged under the same head in 1835. Far from being extravagant, they had been told over and over again, that the troops had not sufficient barrack accommodation ["Hear, hear!"] Whether the explanation was satisfactory or not, it was for the House to decide; but it was very important that the country should know that those increases which were represented to have taken place had really not taken place, and that statements, containing merely great apparent contrasts of figures, should not go abroad without an explanation being given of them. In 1847 he expressed his regret, when moving the estimates, at being obliged to ask the House for an increase upon the estimate under the head of stores for 1844–5, At that period there was a good deal of excitement, and he was taunted with having thought it necessary to offer such an apology. The press, which had the most powerful influence in the country, and which wielded the most important power, if well directed, had taunted him with having apologised for so small an increase at that period. The Government might have increased the estimates largely then; but they forbore doing so, and the House was contented to follow the course that had been laid down by the 535 previous Government. The subject of the Vote No. 6 had been introduced into the present discussion, and some remarks had been made upon it by the hon. Member for Montrose, which, with the permission of the House, he would answer. The hon. Gentleman had spoken about the powder that was thrown away in giving foolish salutes. No doubt some part of it might be saved, and it was not the wish of the Government to expend powder uselessly. But there was a great deal of exaggeration about the cost of what was thus wasted. The hon. Gentleman stated that the review which was to take place at Chatham on Saturday would cost 20,000l. He (Colonel Anson) did not think it would cost 20,000 pence. It would cost only the powder that would be expended. There was no removal of troops or other costly proceeding to take place connected with it. Then, again, he had complained that shells now cost 11s. each, whereas they formerly cost only 4s. 6d. Well, that was true. But then the modern shells were much more formidable, and far more effective than those that were used in former days. Again, the hon. Gentleman complained of there being stores to the enormous amount of 6,000,000l, and upwards in value. He (Colonel Anson) agreed with him that that was a very large amount; but the annual charge on account of those stores was only 323,000l., and there was an item that was entirely new; which the hon. Gentleman had not noticed, 120,000l. for small arms, whilst in 1835 the charge was only 5,000l., because they had then a larger stock of flint muskets and other arms, which modern improvements had rendered valueless. There was also an item of 145,000l. for stores for stations abroad, out of which there was to be deducted 31,000l. for gunpowder.
§ Sir J. GRAHAM
You have not come to that vote. You had better reserve your observations until you come to it in regular course.
wished only to explain, as the vote had been already alluded to, and he promised that he would not go into the subject again when the vote came on, if he were then suffered to proceed. Well, then, besides the 31,000l. for gunpowder out of this 145,000l., there were 16,000l. for materials in the carriage department, and 32,000l. for the storekeeper's department at Woolwich. Then there should be at least 40,000l. referred to the manufacturing department. And, 536 with regard to the observations made upon Government manufacturing by the hon. Member for the West Riding, he should say that no men could be found more able and more zealous than the officers who presided over the manufacturing departments. However, he was not there as an advocate for keeping up a large amount of stores. He was perfectly ready to abide by the decision of the Government as to any reduction that was to take place. With regard to the old light pieces of ordnance, he should observe that 12,000 or 15,000 old guns could not be got rid of at a moment's notice. He did not believe that they could get above 2l. a ton for them as old iron. He could promise, however, that during the recess the Government would take the whole of the recommendations contained in their report into their serious consideration, and he trusted that the House would be satisfied next Session with the decision to which they would come upon them.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ A sum of 71,330l. was next voted, to complete the sum required for wages of artificers and labourers.
§ On the question that a sum not exceeding 163,418l. be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum required for Ordnance stores for land and sea service,
thought that the supply of small arms was absolutely necessary, as they had but a small surplus of percussion guns over what they wanted. He hoped, however, that next year they would be able to dispense with the item. As to the 145,000l., he thought they would be able to effect some reduction.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
would not go into any general discussion, but would, in the two or three remaks he had to make, confine himself strictly to the vote before the Committee. He had on a former occasion expressed a decided opinion, that the consideration of the report of the Committee, together with the evidence, would require, from the number and multiplicity of its details, considerable time and attention on the part of the Government, and on that subject he had nothing to add; but he would for one moment invite the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was thoroughly conversant with the affairs of the Admiralty, and all its details, 537 to the present mode of keeping the accounts. The hon. Member for Montrose, and the other Members of the Committee, would agree with him in saying that with respect to the cash accounts of the three great departments of the Army, Navy, and Ordnance, they were most satisfactory. On the other hand, they had distinct evidence before them, to which there was specific reference in the report, that both in the Navy and Ordnance, the state of the store account was most unsatisfactory. The auditors concurred in stating that the store account of the Navy and Ordnance was, from the mode in which it was kept, in a most imperfect state; and it might be said, indeed, that it amounted to a misappropriation of the sums voted by Parliament, and was open to serious abuse. The Committee agreed in recommending immediate attention to this matter: and, considering the magnitude of the stores now possessed by the country, amounting in value to several millions—considering, also, the large sums annually voted for replenishing those stores, he thought that when they met next Session it would not be unreasonable to expect that an effort should be made by Government to place this account in a satisfactory state. No one was better fitted than the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give the directions that were necessary for this object, and he hoped that his attention would be directed to the subject. Before he (Sir J. Graham) left the Admiralty, he contemplated the extension of the principle that was acted on in the other departments to the store account; but, though fifteen years had elapsed since that time, no improvement had taken place, and he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would now endeavour to effect an alteration so exceedingly desirable.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
concurred with his right hon. Friend in thinking that this was a subject worthy of the closest attention. It was admitted that the cash accounts of the three great departments were in as perfect a state as could be conceived; but it was equally true that the store account of the Ordnance and Navy was in a very unsatisfactory state. He would earnestly address himself to this subject, and would endeavour to have the store accounts put in a proper state before the next meeting of Parliament. At all events, if he should not by that time have entirely succeeded, he hoped to be able to give a satisfactory account of the progress he had made.
MR. J. B. SMITH
thought, if a war broke out, they would find a large portion of the stores they already had, and were proposing to lay in, utterly useless. They had already 160,000 flint guns on hand, and they were now proposing to purchase an additional stock of percussion guns, notwithstanding that experiments were being tried on a new invention, by which five bullets, one after another, could be shot off by one charge. He considered, therefore, the old and new stock would be rendered by next year utterly useless.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ A vote of 236,536l. for works, buildings, and repairs, at home and abroad, having been proposed.
said, the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark had given notice of his intention to move that reductions be made in the votes for Bermuda, the Ionian Islands, and the Mauritius. He said he had deducted one-half of the amount originally intended for these services, and hoped that diminution might be satisfactory to him. He said the outlay already contracted for the works was necessarily considerable; and a vote as large as he now proposed would be required to meet it; but it would be competent for the hon. Baronet, or any other Member of the House to move next Session for an account of all sums expended on these works. The Government, in the meantime, would immediately send out orders to stop all further expenditure.
§ SIR W. MOLESWORTH
said: After what has been stated by the hon. and gallant Officer, I will not make the Motion of which I gave notice, But still I feel called on to make some observations upon this notice. The Motion I gave notice for was that this vote be reduced by the sum of 19,154l., which it is proposed to spend on Ordnance stores at Bermuda, the Mauritius, and the Ionion Islands. From 1828 to 1847–8 inclusive, we have spent 183,146l. on Ordnance stores at Bermuda. Last year we commenced certain new works at Bermuda, which were estimated to cost 60,892l., and we voted 6,213l. on account of them; this year the vote proposed is for 4,948l.; if it be agreed to, 49,731l. would be required to complete the works in progress; besides these works there are others in contemplation, which, according to a rough estimate, will cost 50,000l. I propose that this vote for Bermuda shall be suspended, for the reasons stated in the extract from the report of the 539 Ordnance Committee, which. I will now read:—Earl Grey stated to your Committee that he considered Bermuda a most important station for the protection of our trade, and for the defence of our West Indian possessions. He is, however, of opinion that no new works should be commenced at Bermuda, because he has been informed that Lord Dundonald, the admiral on the station, and Captain Elliot, the Governor, recommend an alteration in the system of defence. The plan sanctioned in the year 1824 is said to be insufficient at the present time, and it is suggested that a flotilla of steamers would afford the most effective means of defence;" and the Committee "recommend that before another vote is asked, the Government should reconsider the necessity of this expenditure, and the plan to be adopted.In the Mauritius 203,949l. have been expended on Ordnance works from 1828 to 1847–8. The year before last we commenced certain fortifications for the defence of Port Louis, which were estimated to cost 149,291l. This estimate has been revised, and now amounts to 158,835l., to which must be added an additional sum of 58,000l. which will be required to complete the sea defences; making in all 216,835l. for sea defences, exclusive of land defences. It is said that these works are very much wanted; for it is stated that the Mauritius is an important military station, and that in the last war before we took possession of it, seven millions worth of prizes were taken into it. It is also said, that without these fortifications it would be difficult, in the event of a war, to retain possession of the Mauritius; and if we were to lose possession of it, it would be difficult to regain possession of it—in both eases for the same reason, because the influential portion of the population are hostile to us. Hence the alleged necessity for sea and land defences. For the sea defences we have voted 10,000l. in the course of the last two years, and it is proposed to vote for them 5,000l. a year. As they are to cost 216,835l., at least forty years will elapse before they can be completed. It was the general opinion of the Committee, if we could do without them for so long a period of time, we could do without them altogether. On the other hand, if they were really required, then their progress ought to be accelerated. Therefore the Ordnance Committee recommended—That the policy of constructing these works and their proposed rate of progress should be reconsidered by the Executive Government.Now, with regard to the Ionian Islands, they were placed under our protection in 540 1815. Earl Bathurst said they would be valuable to us for commercial purposes, and that they were to pay their expenses. The Marquess of Lansdowne, however, being a wiser and far-seeing statesman, said they would be burthensome, expensive, and of no use. The Marquess of Lansdowne was right; our export trade to them has not exceeded 120,000 a year on the average; and though we have compelled them to pay heavy contributions, they have cost us at least 130,000l. a year for troops, &c, or about four millions and a half since the Peace. Of that sum 456,000l. have been for Ordnance works. It is stated in our report that contributions towards the cost of more works have been paid by the Ionian States to the amount of 308,000l., and hon. Gentlemen not well acquainted with the subject may imagine that those works have only cost this country 148,000l. Not so. My hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding was quite right in saying that we had paid the whole sum of 456,000l.; for if those works had not been constructed, 456,000l. ought to have been saved to the country; and the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Clerk of the Ordnance was wrong in contradicting him. To explain my position, and to show how important works have been commenced, and large sums expended upon them without the cognisance of Parliament, I beg the attention of the House for a moment to the history of our pecuniary relations with the Ionian States. Our relations with these States were settled by treaties made in 1815 with Austria, Russia, and Prussia. By the 5th and 6th Articles of those treaties, we agreed to enter into a convention with the Ionian States with regard to—the maintenance of the fortressess already existing, as well as to the subsistence and payment of the British garrisons, and to the number of troops to be kept in time of peace.The convention with the Ionian States was made in 1817. By chap. 7, sec. 2, art. 11 and 12, the regular force was fixed at 3,000 men, the number to be increased or diminished at our pleasure; and "all military expenses of every kind on account of 3,000 men was to be paid by the Ionian States." Therefore, we are not bound by treaty to keep any particular amount of troops in the Ionian Islands. We might withdraw all our troops to-morrow without violating any treaty; and the Ionian States would be delighted if we did so, provided we relieved them from their heavy military contributions. The Ionian States were bound 541 to pay for 3,000 troops, but not in anyway for building fortifications. It was impossible for them to fulfil their engagements. The maintenance and payment of 3,000 men would have cost a sum far exceeding the whole revenue of the islands, which in 1817 did not exceed 80,000l. a year. It was, therefore, arranged that the Ionian States should pay a certain military contribution, which in all would, I believe, have amounted to 35,000l. a year. This sum ought to have appeared annually in the Army Estimates as an appropriation in and, and to have caused a corresponding diminution in those estimates. But in 1824 it was supposed that certain fortifications were wanted in the Ionian Islands. Now, we had no power under the convention to compel the Ionian States to build more fortifications, and the Government of the day ought to have applied to Parliament, in the Ordnance Estimates, for the money required: instead of doing so, an arrangement was made with the Ionian States that, in lieu of their military contributions, they should pay by annual instalments a certain sum of money for building fortifications. The sum was to be 172,000l., the instalments 20,000l. a year. The nature of this transaction is self-evident: 20,000l a year was virtually taken from the appropriations in and of the Army, and transferred, without the cognisance of Parliament, to the Ordnance. The military expenditure of the country became 20,000l. a year more than it ought to have been; the Ordnance expenditure appeared 20,000l. a year less than it was. Important works were commenced without the sanction of Parliament, and the money was really voted for them in the Army Estimates. This transaction would have probably never been known but for two causes, which compelled the Ordnance at length, in 1839, to come to parliament for a vote of money to complete the works. Those causes were: 1st. The Ionian States were unable to fulfil their pecuniary engagements to this country; 2nd, The cost of the works far exceeded the estimate. I am unable to state precisely how much the Ionian States are indebted to us. A return on this subject was ordered by the Chairman of the Ordnance Committee some months ago, but it has not been made. From a return presented to Parliament some time ago, it appears that, from the 1st November, 1834, to 31st January, 1842, they ought to have paid us for military contributions 253,750l., or at the 542 rate of 35,000l, a year; however, they only paid us 131,500l., and were indebted to us 122,270l. Since then their debt has gone on increasing, I believe at least in the same proportion. I am informed that, since 1817, they have paid us 800,000l.; at the rate of 35,000l. a year; they ought to have paid us 1,100,000l.; therefore it is not improbable that they owe us at the present moment, 300,000l. on the whole account. In fact, if the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Clerk of the Ordnance, instead of saying on a former occasion that the Ionian States had paid 300,000l. for Ordnance works, had said that they owed us 300,000l., he would have been nearer the truth. The cost of these works has far exceeded the original estimate, which in 1824 was only for 182,000l. That sum being expended, Colonel Maberly informed the Committee of 1834 on military expenditure that the works would be completed for 60,000l., making in all 242,000l.: that money having likewise been expended, in 1839 the Ordnance came for the first time to Parliament for a vote, with an estimate of 100,500l. for the completion of those works. The last instalment of that money was voted last year, amounting to 12,873l. To show with how little care our Ordnance Estimates are frequently framed, I beg the House to observe that in the estimates of last year it was distinctly stated that nothing had ever before been voted for those works, nothing had ever been expended upon them, and that nothing more would be required for them; the fact being that in the course of the previous nine years we had voted 87,627l. for these works; that since their commencement at least 346,000l. had been expended upon them; and that, to complete them, about 96,000l. more would be required. So incorrect a statement was very likely to mislead hon. Members, especially inexperienced Members, who probably last year for the first time read through an Ordnance estimate, innocently believed the statements it contained, and fancied that 12,873l. was all that ever had been, or would be, required for fortifications at Corfu. The Ordnance Estimates of this year are as erroneous as those of last year. I think this ought not to have happened after the animadversions of the Navy Committee of last year on similar errors in the Navy Estimates. If the Committee will refer to page 53 of the Ordnance Estimates of this year, they 543 will find again, tinder the three heads of "already voted," "already expended," and" required for completing works," at Corfu, the word nil; the proposed vote for this year being 9,206l. The question is whether we shall agree to this vote, the facts of the case being that in the course of the last ten years we have voted 100,500l. for them: since the commencement we have expended on them 346,000l. To complete them, Sir J. Burgoyne stated, that in addition to the vote of this year 37,000l. more would be required; and even then 50,000l. additional would be wanted to make Corfu a strong place. I will answer this question by reading a few sentences from the report of the Ordnance Committee, in which they state, that—According to Earl Grey's views, these works should never have been undertaken; one of the great objections to the fortifications which have been constructed towards the sea is, that they render other fortifications on the land side necessary also; otherwise it may be that we have only constructed fortifications against ourselves. If Corfu had been left undefended, it could never have been held against a great naval Power; but as it is, being fortified, it imposes upon us, in the event of a war, the inconvenient necessity of maintaining a large garrison there. The Inspector General of Fortifications has recommended a further outlay. The Secretary of State for the Colonies regrets the past outlay, and expresses doubts as to the policy of additional works. In these circumstances, your Committee recommend that no vote for these works should be taken until the subject has been considered by the Government.In my opinion these works ought to be stopped altogether; they were commenced without the sanction of Parliament; for a long time they were really paid for out of moneys voted on the Army Estimates; they were to cost 182,000l.; they have cost 346,000l.; it is said they can be completed for 96,000l.; but no reliance can be placed either on past or present Ordnance Estimates. If, however, they could be completed at a total cost of 450,000l., then they would be so extensive that it would be inexpedient in time of war to keep in them cannon sufficient to man them; therefore in such an event the wisest plan would be to blow up the fortifications, and to withdraw our troops, for as long as we retained the supremacy of the sea, we could always conquer them for a trifling expense, provided there be no fortifications to hurt us; and without the supremacy of the ocean, no nation could ever long retain those islands even with the best fortifications. These reasons have satisfied me that we ought to spend no more money on fortifications in the Ionian Islands, and 544 I, for one, will never give my sanction to another vote for that purpose.
said, the hon. Baronet was labouring under a mistake, when he complained of the improper expenditure on account of the ordnance for the Mauritius. When that island was first taken possession of by this country, its fortifications were carried throughout its whole extent. Those works had since been contracted. That he considered to be a work of economy, for the more concentrated and strengthened the fortifications were, the less amount of ordnance was required. The hon. Baronet had said, that in its arrangements with the Ionian Islands the Government had robbed the Army, for the purpose of expending the money on the Ordnance. That was not the case; for the money which had been expended was to be repaid by the Ionian Islands to this country. But he had already said that this expenditure for the defences of these islands would be stopped. The statement in the estimates was not so correct as it ought to have been. It would induce a person to suppose that the money was required for new works, whereas it was not so.
said, he merely asked for information; but he had a professional curiosity to know what Corfu was for. He had heard it asserted from the opposite benches, that Corfu was to defend the entrance to the Gulf of Venice; but he had no notion how a fortress could defend a passage when it was out of sight. He recollected passing all the way to Venice, and he saw nothing of Corfu. In fact it was sixty miles from the opposite shore, and therefore defended nothing. It was all part of the superannuated notions on the effect of fortifications, which the experience of modern wars had entirely exploded.
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
agreed in what had fallen from the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but he could not assent to all that had been said by the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark. There could be little doubt that this country had taken these islands, and was fortifying them for her political purposes. At the same time, he thought that a few forts constructed to protect the town from the predatory attacks of neighbouring forces was all that was necessary, and that 450,000l. was more than was proper to have been voted. As to the Ionian Islands, he had heard with surprise that so large an amount as 800,000l. had 545 been paid in liquidation of their debt to this country. He did not expect that it could have been so large, for those islands were very poor. Considering their condition, and that the inhabitants were not parties to the treaty which transferred them to us, it seemed to him rather hard to make them pay a contribution to this country of 25,000l. or 30,000l. a year. It was quite clear that England had taken them under her protection for her own political purposes; and it was rather hard to make them pay for that. He hoped that this country would forego the arrears of their debt. They were not very pressing with the greater Powers of Europe. He believed there were arrears due still from Austria. Yet with all these contributions levied upon them, we did not put them on an equality with the colonies as regarded import duties. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUEK: Yes, we do.] He was happy to hear it; but this he knew—that a now corn law had been re-enacted in Ionia, with the sanction of the present Government, in order to assist in paying this contribution.
§ MR. HUME
pressed on the Government the necessity of establishing a representative government in these islands. He wished the House to observe that of all the votes that of the Ordnance required the greatest attention, and afforded the greatest scope for reduction; in no other department perhaps, except the Navy, had greater irregularities taken place. He apprehended that much of the money expended in those fortifications abroad was pure waste; whereas had it been expended at home it would have been of much use to this country. He certainly thought that every such expenditure should be first submitted to the Treasury, and through the Treasury to that House. He wished to know whether the expenditure for the Mauritius would be stopped. The first item was 5,000l., and it involved all the rest. He objected to it until they had all the reports before them.
said, there would be a further consideration of the question before they expended any money for the Mauritius.
MR. VERNON SMITH
was of opinion that the country stood indebted to the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark, for having brought forward this question, though his hon. Friend had exercised a very sound discretion in not pressing his Amendment to a division, the hon. and 546 gallant Member for Staffordshire having promised that the question as to the continuance of these fortifications should be fully considered before the next Session of Parliament. But he wished to call the attention of the Committee to another point—namely, to the manner in which these emergent services were provided for. Under the head of "emergence" most of the expenses of the Caffre war took place—expenses of which no account had yet been given, nor did he believe could be given. It was stated in the report of the Ordnance Committee, that works under the head of "Emergent Services" were frequently paid for by the Ordnance, with money derived from the postponement of other works. This was a very objectionable system, as it afforded the means of incurring expenses which, if submitted to Parliament, would not have been sanctioned; all superintendence of Parliament was, therefore, by this system, rendered a mere farce, He admitted that the governors of colonies should have some discretionary power; but as the most extravagant expenditure had been incurred under this head, he hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would devise some means to check this abuse.
§ MR. W. MILES
pointed out the manner in which the balance in the hands of the Treasury were created out of which these emergency charges were defrayed. Certain barracks were to be erected at Newcastle, the original estimate for which was 58,000l. This money was voted at different times in various small sums, until no less than 89,000l. were granted by Parliament on account of those barracks. Now, where did the balance between 58,000l. and 89,000l. go to? The money was paid over by the Ordnance to the Treasury, and then paid by the Treasury on account of those works of emergency.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
said, the attention of the House had been called to the evil, but not to the remedy suggested by the Committee. Until 1836 there were balances which it was in the power of the Government to appropriate; but under the improved mode of keeping the accounts, all the unexpended balances were paid into the Exchequer, a power being necessarily vested in the Treasury of meeting emergencies by a special order. While the Committee recommended that that power should be retained by the Treasury, they went on to call attention to the absolute necessity, where this power was exercised, of a statement being appended to the esti- 547 mates of the ensuing year, giving an account of the exercise of that power by the Treasury, together with the reasons which had seemed to require it. The words at the end of the report were unfortunately misprinted. Instead of "works of which Parliament has cognisance," it should be, "has no cognisance." The Committee was most anxious that Parliament should have cognisance of such works; and they recommended that, in carrying out the present arrangement, in reference to works of which Parliament had no cognisance, a statement should be hereafter made with the estimates of the ensuing year, and that the signature of the Treasury should be annexed to that statement. If that were done in every case where unforeseen circumstances, in the opinion of the Treasury, justified the expenditure of money, and the consequent postponement of some work which had received Parliamentary sanction, the fact would be made known to Parliament, the reasons would be recorded, and Parliament would be able to call the Executive Government to account for the exercise of this discretionary power. In the estimates for the present year, three sums were charged apparently as estimates for future expenses, which really belonged to the past—those under the heads of Hong-Kong, Monte Video, and New Zealand. This was contrary to principle. The Committee pointed out the error, and recommended that all these cases should henceforth be met by a supplementary estimate. If these recommendations were adopted, every check that was really necessary would be obtained by Parliament; while, at the same time, a strict appropriation under the provisions of the Appropriation Act, would be observed; and in unforeseen emergencies the Executive Government would have that dispensing power which, with a view to the efficiency of the public service, they ought to possess.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, the three hon. Gentlemen who had preceded him had clearly and correctly stated the difficulty. It was one which did not apply to the Ordnance estimates only. The right hon. Member for Northampton said very truly that there were cases of emergency, but that that plea might be carried to a very improper extent. No doubt of it. Still no one could deny that there were cases of emergency, in which parties on the spot must take upon themselves to incur some expense. He might instance the invasion of 548 the Capo of Good Hope by the Kafirs, or an attack on any of our colonies by a neighbouring Power. It was absurd to say that the governor of a colony, or the person responsible for the safety of Her Majesty's subjects, was not to take upon him to do that which was absolutely necessary for the defence of the colony at the time. He agreed that the eases of emergency ought to be confined to those of real and absolute necessity; but that such cases would sometimes inevitably occur, no man could deny. How, then, were they to be met? Heretofore, when balances were held over from one year to another, there was no difficulty whatever in paying off these unforeseen expenses. That system had very wisely, and as conducing more strictly to economy, been put at end to. No money was now ever kept over beyond the conclusion of the financial year. [Mr. HUME: Hear, hear.] Well, that was quite right. [Mr. HUME: Quite right.] But it did carry with it the inconvenience to which allusion had been made. If an unforeseen expenditure occurred, and must be defrayed, from what source could it be defrayed if no money was left in the shape of balances? There were only two modes of doing it; either to vote a sum for unforeseen contingencies, on the same principle as a sum was annually voted for civil contingencies, or to pursue the same course which was adopted at present—when application was made to the Treasury to sanction an expenditure for a certain purpose, after communication with the department, to say, let this emergency be paid for, and let some other work be put off. It was indispensably necessary that that power should be continued to the Treasury, unless the House was disposed to vote a sum for contingent expenses. All the advocates of strict economy were opposed to a vote for contingencies; and that being so, there was no alternative but to continue to the Treasury the discretion vested in them by the Appropriation Act. Of course, that discretion must be exercised with great care and attention, so as not to allow anything to be counted an emergency which in point of fact was not so; and an annual account of such expenditure ought to be given. That was the only mode in which a control could be exercised over the expenditure. So long as a certain sum was voted for a particular work, and was applied to another purpose, it would be necessary to vote a further sum for the original work; hence it might ap- 549 pear that a larger sum had been voted for it than was really the case, when in fact the original estimate had not been exceeded. In reference to the throe items objected to by the right hon. Baronet who had last spoken, he would observe, that when the application was made to the Treasury for payment of those services, it did not appear, from the letter addressed to them, that the money had been paid, but that it was a service where it was required to be paid. Therefore, in order' to bring it before the knowledge of Parliament, he had directed an item for those three services to be included in the estimates for this year, in order that Parliament might have a knowledge of what had been done. Subsequently he received a letter from the Board of Ordnance, resulting from what had taken place in the Committee; he then directed that the two items, for Hong Kong and Monte Video, where the expenses had been paid, should be withdrawn from the estimates, and this had been done. The other item remained in the estimates, as it would be a repayment. But he entirely agreed in the principle that a past expenditure ought to be provided for either by a supplementary vote or a vote in excess.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
said, he entirely approved of the present mode of voting the estimates, and should be extremely sorry to return to the practice of voting either Army or Ordnance extraordinaries. Admitting that there must be extraordinary items, still if the present form of estimate was strictly adhered to and carried into effect, the House would be perfectly cognisant of all the facts. These estimates were rightly and deliberately framed. There were five columns, the first containing the total estimate for the work; the second, the sum already voted; the next, the sum already expended; the next, the amount required for the current year; and the last, the further amount necessary for completing the work. If all these were accurately filled up, whatever might be the sum voted, and whatever the sum expended, oven though there might be some anomalies in the postponement of one expenditure, another appropriation of the sum voted, the facts would be constantly before Parliament. But let it be observed, every thing depended on the fidelity and accuracy with which these columns were filled up. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his evidence before the Committee, admitted that the mode of preparing the estimates 550 had failed in giving the information desired, because it appeared that the columns had not been filled up, or not filled up with sufficient accuracy; and hence the difficulty of drawing any accurate conclusion as to the amounts.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
had not the slightest difficulty in assuring the right hon. Baronet that his attention had been directed to the matter, inasmuch as all the estimates were under the notice of the Treasury'. It was perfectly true, that unless all the returns were accurately filled up, the information was not worth a farthing. If this were done, a precise knowledge of all the estimates would be brought annually before Parliament.
§ MR. COBDEN
observed, that the discussion had given occasion for many sound principles to be enunciated; and he thought hon. Members would be satisfied that the Legislature had made very considerable progress in the declaration, at least, of sound principles with regard to our colonial government. A Motion had been brought forward for' stopping the expenditure in the Ionian Islands. Those islands stood in an exceptional state to all our other colonies and dependencies abroad. It was said they had come into our possession after the late war, for political reasons, and for the benefit of this country. But on referring to the debates in 1816, he found that very eminent authorities protested against our taking possession of these islands at all. The Marquess of Lansdowne, in speaking of this subject, said—But to revert to the Ionian Islands, he did not see of what use they were to this country. They were burdensome and expensive, but of no use; and here he should advert to the policy of the Congress which had given to England the protection of those places; the Congress acted towards this country as a man dying without fortune, who left the providing for a son to one friend, for a daughter to another, and the payment of his debts to a third. They had, in fact, made England the residuary legatee under a testament of this kind; whenever an unprofitable burden was to be borne, it was left to this country.Lord (then Mr. Brougham) said—Then, again, why were the seven or eight Ionian Islands saddled on us? Productive of nothing else, they were exceedingly rich in patronage. There must be governors, and secretaries, and commanders-in-chief, and commissaries, and port admirals, and the whole apparatus of patronage. And these were the latent inducements to burden this country with their protection.In proposing to stop this expenditure, the 551 hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark had understated the amount that would be saved; for in every such instance the expenditure went much beyond the estimate. A sum in the estimates of 70,000l or 80,000l. was sure to amount to 50 per cent more; therefore by stopping these works a saving of 150,000l would probably be effected. He hoped the Government would direct their attention to the very imperfect data on which the works had been begun. Sir J. Burgoyne himself, in his evidence, admitted that the first estimates were not much to be relied on, and said that the final project and estimate was made in a rough way. If a civil engineer had made estimates on no better data, he would soon have ceased to be employed in similar undertakings. In his opinion the only way to avoid these excesses was for hon. Members to make up their minds to expend no more on these foreign possessions. The hon. and gallant Member for Westminster had spoken of the necessity for maintaining some foreign stations in a very high state of defence. But where was the necessity for this, so long as we maintained our maritime supremacy; for that, and that alone, was the guarantee against those fortresses and armed places abroad being taken from us. If the Straits of Gibraltar were slightly less fortified, or if we were to abstain from making any addition to the works or forces there, he did not think that any foreign nation would be likely to go and take possession of them, because, on the argument of our maritime supremacy, they would not be able to keep them. In illustration of this, he might refer to the case of Heligoland, at the mouth of the Elbe, over which we maintained a nominal supremacy. This place was a perfect focus of smuggling, and as such must be extremely obnoxious to the adjacent State. But those who advocated a constant increase of expenditure at Gibraltar might as well come down with a plan for fortifying Heligoland, and ask for an immense garrison to be kept up there. Precisely the same arguments might be used for that as those by which the defences of Malta and Gibraltar were supported. Yet nobody attempted to go and take possession of Heligoland, or to supersede our authority there. On the subject of these defences much sounder opinions had been entertained in 1816 than had been since held. He would read to the House what was said by the Marquess of Wellesley; and 552 if he (Mr. Cobden) were to make such a speech now, he should be charged with seeking to destroy all our foreign possessions. He said—It was for the House, so long as the question was before them in detail, to estimate the particular danger to which each of the different settlements was exposed, because it was that danger alone by which the amount of its military force ought to be measured, and then to compare this danger with the danger to ourselves at home from a lavish and improvident expenditure. Malta, also, must be fully garrisoned—and why? Not on account of any apprehended attack, for there was not a breadth of wind to waft a hostile fleet towards her shores, but for a different and singular reason, namely, that her fortifications were very strong. So, with respect to the Ionian Islands, the argument was this—they were acquired in time of peace and by treaty. Corfu is extremely strong, and therefore they must have a large garrison, and Corfu must have a force in proportion to the strength of her position. In fact, let the place be strong or let it be weak, let it be old or new, populous or the contrary—from all parts come converging arguments in favour of an increased establishment. But economy, approaching even to parsimony, was the panoply of peace—and those who maintained that the safety and security of this country depended on our maintaining great armies in a period of peace, displayed an ignorance of the first principle of our constitution; and not only that, but an ignorance of the first principle of our insular policy.How was the House to guard against the great waste which inevitably arose the moment we commenced fortifications abroad? The House would not remedy it, nor could any Committee of the House. The engineering department had admitted that they were not formed on a principle which was likely to remedy it. There was no remedy but to stay their hands as much as possible from undertaking any more of these fortifications.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the next vote, 49,859l. for the expenses of the scientific branch of the Ordnance, was, after a few observations, agreed to.
§ The next vote was 86,659l. to complete the sum necessary for the non-effective service.
§ MAJOR BLACKALL
complained that the privilege given to lieutenant-colonels in the royal artillery and engineers of retiring on full pay, was not extended to the officers of the line. Of the former, thirty-four had retired in one year, while in the whole of the line, only twenty had so retired. He knew that twelve lieutenant-colonels of the artillery, and five of the engineers, had declined to accept the boon offered them, of filling up the vacancies; 553 and this boon might have been suitably extended to old officers of the line.
§ MR. FOX MAULE
thought the hon. and gallant Member had overlooked one material difference with regard to the respective positions of artillery and engineer officers, and of officers of the line, in the fact that the former advanced by merit and service, whereas the latter got their commissions, and could obtain their promotion, by purchase. He was not prepared to give any definite reply to the suggestion of the hon. and gallant Member that the lieutenant colonels of the line should have retirements after refusal by engineers and artillery officers.
§ MR. HUME
had to complain that every recommendation made by the officers of the service leading to increased expense was eagerly seized upon and adopted; but every suggestion favourable to economy was instantly rejected and laid aside. He had no objection to the promotions which the public service allowed; but he had strongly to protest against the system of brevets, as they led to a gratuitous and uncalled-for waste of public money. He had seen in the public papers, that an officer in the British service had taken it upon himself to make war upon a native king on the coast of Africa. He wished to know whether the officer in question had acted with the sanction of the Government, or whether the war was one of those emergencies that the country would afterwards be called upon to pay for? If the officer had exceeded his authority, he (Mr. Hume) should like the Government to make him pay all the extra expense of his unjustifiable proceedings.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, he had received despatches on this subject, but had not yet been able to read them. However, he believed he might say that the proceedings of this officer had not received the sanction of the Government.
said, there appeared to have been a complete razzia, after the model of Algiers, and on the same pretext, that somebody had been insulted. Nobody ever was insulted, but by their own fault. The result appeared to have been the sacrifice of some hundreds of black lives, and some of whites. There ought to be a severe reckoning for transactions of this nature.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.
§ House resumed.554
§ House adjourned at a quarter before Six o'clock.