§ MR. LOCKE
I rise, Sir, toCall the attention of the House to the delay that has taken place in the production of the Papers on the subject of Reform, alluded to by the noble Lord the Member for Stamford, which the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on Tuesday the 5th instant, said he hoped to be able to lay upon the Table of the House in a few days.I wish to call the attention of the House to the uncertainty which exists with reference to the statistics which we were given to understand were prepared for the Cabinet, and which (a circumstance which naturally makes the House much more curious than it otherwise would have been) resulted in the retirement of three of the Members of the Cabinet. Two of those late Members of the Cabinet made statements in this House, and the noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Viscount Cranbourne) said that certain papers were submitted to the Cabinet, containing the statistics, on the 23rd of February. On the 25th of February the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was to make his statement to the House as to the Reform Bill which the Govern- 1810 ment were about to bring in; but on the 24th of February, in consequence of those statistics not being to the taste of the noble Lord the Member for Stamford, he sent in his resignation. Whether he did that on the 24th, which was Sunday, or on the 25th, I do not know. On the 25th, under these circumstances, of course the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not proceed with the statement on Reform which he had been about to introduce to the House, and which the House had expected. The right hon. and gallant Member for Huntingdon (General Feel), and the noble Lord the Member for Stamford, made their statements, and it appeared that the papers referred to—whether placed in the hands of the Cabinet, or read out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer—had only been partially communicated to the noble Lord and the other Members of the Cabinet at first, but subsequently the noble Lord had an opportunity of looking at them, or part of them—how much of them I do not know—and the result was his resignation. Therefore it was that I thought it right that such important documents as those which contained the statistics upon which the Reform Bill was to be brought in should be submitted to the House, that we, as well as the Cabinet, might have an opportunity of judging with respect to the measure which was to be based upon them. I therefore asked the right hon. Gentleman a question, and perhaps I had better repeat the exact words that were used, because very much in this matter appears to depend upon the precise words uttered by those who take part in the question. On the 5th of March my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton) asked a question of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to what would be the course of public business, and I followed before an answer had been given to my hon. and learned Friend. I asked—When the papers referring to the electoral statistics, submitted to the Members of the Cabinet, and alluded to by the noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Viscount Cranbourne), would be laid upon the table?"—[3 Hansard, clxxxv. 1370.]The right hon. Gentleman gave me this answer—I have given direction for the preparation of the papers, and I hope in a few days they will be in the hands of Members."—[3 Hansard, clxxxv. 1370.]Now, I consider that answer was clear and distinct as to the identical papers alluded 1811 to by the noble Lord. There could be no doubt about the question, and none of the public journals, I believe, differ in any way upon it or upon the answer given by the right hon. Gentleman. From that it was fair to infer that directions had been given—there could be no question at all about preparing the papers, which were all ready—that directions had been given by the right hon. Gentleman to produce the papers for the satisfaction of the House, and that they would be laid upon the table at once. However, they did not appear; and therefore it was that, on the 11th of March, I renewed my Question to the right hon. Gentleman, asking him—Whether the Government would lay on the table the statistics referred to by the noble Viscount (Viscount Cranbourne) as having been laid before the Cabinet a fortnight since?"—[3 Hansard, clxxxv. 1648.]This was the right hon. Gentleman's answer—No papers have been before the Cabinet which have not been laid on the table of the House. There is no new information. I believe that the House is in possession of all the information the Cabinet have. I have given instructions that for the convenience of Members certain information shall be prepared and, printed, but I regret that it is not yet ready. I am unable to account for the delay, but I will make inquiry as to the reason. It has probably arisen from the desire to impart some new information."—[3 Hansard, clxxxv. 1648.]That struck me at the time as being an extraordinary statement, and so it appears to have struck the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman), because he made some observations upon it. It was stated likewise by the right hon. Gentleman—and this appears in the reports of the leading journals—that there was nothing new in the papers. That called up the noble Lord the Member for Stamford, and after the Chancellor of the Exchequer had referred to what had fallen from the right hon. Member for Stroud, the noble Lord observed—It is necessary, in order to make my own statement clear, that I should say that I understood, when certain figures were laid before the Cabinet, that they were figures which had been obtained from the Departments for that purpose, and that they were new. So I understood them; but, of course, in that I may have been mistaken. They were exceedingly scanty, and few in number, and the investigation of which I spoke was mainly directed to comparing these figures which were sums total with the more detailed information contained in the voluminous Returns laid before the House last year."—[3 Hansard, clxxxv. 1649.]It appears, then, that the right hon. Gen- 1812 tleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the noble Lord the Member for Stamford are at direct variance. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says, in the first instance—when he is asked to produce the papers, which are clearly designated as the papers containing the statistics which were laid before the Cabinet, or read to the Cabinet, or partly read to the Cabinet, and which were subsequently submitted to the noble Lord the Member for Stamford, and which caused him to resign his office—the Chancellor of the Exchequer says most distinctly that he will produce those papers which contain those identical statistics. When his attention is again called to the matter about a week afterwards the right hon. Gentleman says, "No, there are no now papers at all. Those figures which you mentioned are merely figures which are now upon the table of the House, scattered amongst nobody can say how many Returns," Whether that is so or not it is impossible for me to say; but, at all events, it appears that the noble Lord the Member for Stamford has not read the voluminous Returns amongst which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer says those figures are to be picked out. The noble Lord says that he understood that the figures submitted to him on that occasion were entirely new. I think the House has a right to have a clear explanation upon this matter. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer had chosen to say, in the first place, "I do not intend to produce those statistics at all; it was a Cabinet matter. I introduced them to the Cabinet, but I am not going to introduce them to the House," he might have done so, and the House could have dealt with the matter as under those circumstances. But the right hon. Gentleman distinctly said that the statistics should be produced, afterwards telling us that there were no new statistics to produce, although a late Member of the Cabinet distinctly says that there were, and that he understood the statistics shown to him to be new. I want to know, therefore, why it is that they have not been produced, and whether a satisfactory reason can be given by the right hon. Gentleman for not placing them on the table? It is necessary, for the satisfaction of the House, that such an explanation should be given as shall lead the House to a clear understanding of what was the real nature of the case.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
AS my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will have to speak on another subject at a later period, it is better, perhaps, that I should answer the Question of the hon. and learned Gentleman. The real fact of the matter is this. The figures spoken of were very few indeed. My noble Friend the Member for Stamford (Viscount Cranbourne) analysed them for his own purposes, and divided the totals among the different boroughs. The figures which were given to my noble Friend were derived from papers already on the table of the House; that is to say, the old figures obtained in the different Returns were arranged to show, as has been shown in the newspapers, the number of male occupiers in the various boroughs. However, the papers will be in Members' hands shortly. It is necessary that they should be carefully corrected, and they have to come back from the printer's to be revised; but they will probably be in Members' hands to-morrow. The hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Whalley) and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Harwich (Major Jervis) have moved for papers, which will also be supplied, and which will really put much more information into the hands of Members than the noble Lord the Member for Stamford had before him.
There are two questions which I should like to put to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, not on exactly the same subject as the last Question, but in reference to the same chapter of information, and they refer to points which are very material for the convenience of the House. I should like to know from the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Printing of the Reform Bill will be so expedited that it may be in the hands of Members on Tuesday morning? [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: Yes, it will.] That is very satisfactory. The other question I have to put is this: It will be recollected that in the blue book of last year there is a statement of the numbers of male occupiers, at different values of occupation, for every borough in the country. Those numbers include the persons who pay their own rates directly and those for whom the landlords pay rates, or who pay them in fact as part of the rent to their landlords. Those Returns draw no distinction between these two classes of persons, so that we have no ground upon 1814 which we can show how many of the occupiers are direct ratepayers, and how many are compound householders, or holders under Sturges Bourne's Act, or under the Small Tenements Act, or other Acts bearing upon the point. The question I want to put is one of great interest, and it is, whether the right hon. Gentleman will be prepared to lay before the House any information affecting the division of those two classes into direct ratepayers or compound householders for each of the boroughs in the country? I dare say the right hon. Gentleman will be able to answer this when he rises presently. Another point which I wish to mention is in reference to the procedure of this evening. Nothing would be more contrary to my own inclination, or to the inclination of my Friends around me, than to endeavour to interpose or intercept the progress of business; but, with reference to the proposal to enter into the discussion of the Navy Estimates to-night, the state of things is peculiar. The Navy Estimates of the present year are not common Navy Estimates; they involve a considerable increase of charge; and, besides that, they involve a considerable commutation of charge. They not only suspend certain descriptions of work now in progress, according to the plans of the late Government, according to the Estimates of last year, but they bring into view other descriptions of work of a very extensive character, and of very great importance; of such a description as to raise the whole question of supplying the naval stations abroad, and the whole question of the number of men to be voted for the navy. That being one of the material circumstances of the case, we have also this, that in the House of Commons to-night we neither have the Minister who prepared these Estimates (Sir John Pakington) to move them, nor the Minister under whose responsibility they are to be carried into effect (Mr. Corry). I trust that my noble Friend the present Secretary to the Admiralty (Lord Henry Lennox) will not suppose that I am impeaching his personal competence to propose the Navy Estimates. I have often heard him speak in this House, and I never heard him when he did not do great credit to himself and great justice to the subject he had charge of; but I speak of his position and responsibility with reference to this subject. It is within my knowledge that many Members on this side of the House wish to 1815 bring into full view, by the discussion on the Navy Estimates, which will necessarily be a long one, the various important subjects of which I have indicated the heads. In the form of the present Navy Estimates it is obviously impossible that this discussion can take place in the House unless in the presence of the responsible Minister. We are not situated as we were on the subject of the Army Estimates, where there was a special necessity for obtaining the Vote of Men with a view to the passing of the Mutiny Act. With regard to money, if there is any necessity for passing a Navy Vote on that bead, a Vote can be passed on account to meet any emergency. Notice could be given of such a Vote to-night, and it could be voted tomorrow evening. With regard to the number of men, there will be an opportunity next week, in the interval between the introduction and the second reading of the Reform Bill, to introduce the Navy Estimates, and then the subject can be fully debated. I put it to the right hon. Gentleman whether it is for the convenience of the House that we should proceed with the statement of the noble Lord (Lord Henry Lennox) this evening. It is not necessary that we should object to the noble Lord making a statement, if the Government think the course of public business will be advanced by that. But it will be impossible for us to arrive at a Vote, as to the number of men, because the question turns upon and involves a number of matters which could not be dealt with except in the presence of the responsible Minister. Would it not, upon the whole, be for the convenience of the House that a day should be appointed, in the middle of next week, for the purpose of dealing with the Navy Estimates? I think I shall be justified in the suggestion I have thrown out by those who have given their minds to the subject and who have the intention of debating it.
I do not share in the interest which my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Locke) seems to attach to the production of further statistics on the subject of Keform—in fact, I would much rather that we should have less figures and more frankness. We have reason to complain, not so much of the want of information as of the want of straightforwardness. Much as I love statistics myself, I am afraid we have had a plethora of them upon this subject. I complain, in common with many, of my brother Members around me, 1816 of the air of mystery—the un-English air of mystery—which has been indulged in by the Government in reference to this question. It was the remark of a distinguished statesman that a proper secrecy was the only mystery of able men, but that mystery was the only secrecy of weak and cunning ones. I do not say in which category the present Government may be placed; but if mystery be wisdom, they may be called pre-eminently wise. It was said some seventy years ago by the late Mr. Sheridan, that the English people had no faith in the "little Isaac" class of politicians—"roguish, but devilish keen." I trust the Government will not persist in this policy of mystery, and render Mr. Sheridan's remark applicable to them. In saying thus much, let me ask the hon. Gentlemen who sit on the Ministerial side of the House to accept the assurance that I believe the party to which I have the honour to belong would be benefited by a twelve months' absence from office; and in that spirit I do not begrudge them the tenure of their pleasant places on the Benches opposite.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I do not intend, Sir, to trouble the House with any remarks upon the observations of the successor to Sheridan. With regard to the inquiry of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone), I must say I consider it unreasonable. He himself was a Member of a Government which for seven years regulated the destinies of this country, and during those seven years the Navy Estimates were always moved by the Secretary of the Admiralty (Lord Clarence Paget). We did not hear then that it was unsatisfactory to the House that the First Lord of the Admiralty should not be present, or that the Minister of the Admiralty, who is responsible for the preparation of the Estimates, should not be a Member of this House. If therefore, Sir, the Navy Estimates could be moved by the Secretary of the Admiralty for seven years I cannot understand the grounds of the objections taken upon this occasion, more especially as my noble Friend the present Secretary (Lord Henry Lennox) is so perfectly competent to the task. The right hon. Gentleman asks me whether the public business would be retarded or inconvenienced by the adoption of the course which he has suggested. In answer to that I have to say that considering that the First Lord 1817 of the Admiralty (if his presence be absolutely necessary to move the Estimates) cannot take his seat until the 25th of this month, I have no hesitation in saying that the course proposed would be most inconvenient to the course of public business, and would, moreover, seriously embarrass certain arrangements which have been made. The right hon. Gentleman talks much of the presence of the Minister of the Admiralty, who is responsible for the preparation of the Estimates. I have already shown to the House that it is not absolutely necessary that the First Lord of the Admiralty should move the Estimates; because for the last seven years this has not been done. But allow me, Sir, to remark that every Minister is responsible for the preparation of these Estimates. What was our proposal with respect to the business this evening? We proposed that the Estimates should be moved by the Secretary of the Admiralty; but when we made that arrangement it was thought that my noble Friend the Secretary would, according to all calculation and expectation, have had by his side my right hon. Friend (Sir John Pakington), the late First Lord of the Admiralty, who would have been prepared also to have spoken upon any subject which the House might think required elucidation. An accident, the non-return of the writ, has prevented this proposal being carried out. I repeat, that when the objection was taken, notice of which, owing to the courtesy of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, was given us, the presence of my right hon. Friend the late First Lord of the Admiralty was certainly counted upon. Nobody, in fact, doubted that he would be present. I must say, therefore, that I do not see in the tone taken by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) upon this subject, exactly that temper which I should have counted upon, whatever might have been the struggles of party, with reference to the better conduct of the public business. Let me remind the right hon. Gentleman, that if no objection had been taken on the first night on which my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Huntingdon (General Peel) was prepared to move the Army Estimates, if he had been permitted to go on then, my right hon. Friend the then First Lord of the Admiralty (Sir John Pakington) would on the Thursday following have moved the Navy Estimates, and we should not have been in the somewhat embarrassing position in which the 1818 House is now placed. I am perfectly aware that if hon. Gentlemen, acting from what they consider to be their duty, choose to control the necessary business of this House, it is impossible for us to resist an appeal of that sort, because Motion after Motion can be made. I think it undesirable that the Estimates should be moved unless there is a general concurrence in the House upon the subject. My opinion is, that it will be convenient for the public service that we should proceed as the paper indicates, but I must leave it to the House to decide.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
The right hon. Gentleman has misunderstood the objection of my right hon. Friend. He did not mean to imply that the Estimates should never be moved by the Secretary of the Admiralty. When the First Lord of the Admiralty does not sit in this House, the Secretary is the recognised organ of the Department. His objection was, that it is unusual and inexpedient for him to move the Estimates when he is not the recognised organ of the Admiralty. When the First Lord has a seat in this House, it is he who should give the necessary explanations of matters of importance which may arise in the course of the debate. The right hon. Gentleman opposite seems to admit the force of that objection, because he says that he had counted upon the presence of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War (Sir John Pakington.) If that right hon. Gentleman had taken his seat, there would have been no objection to proceeding with the Estimates, because he is the Minister who is directly responsible to the House for their preparation, and could no doubt have given every explanation that was required. No one, I am sure, will doubt the competency of the noble Lord opposite (Lord Henry Lennox) to deal with this subject. The House will be happy to hoar his statement if the right hon. Gentleman thinks that his making it to-night will advance the public business; but he must not expect that a debate can be taken as if the First Lord of the Admiralty or the Secretary of State for War were in their places, or that any vote, except on account, can be agreed to.
LORD HENRY LENNOX
Sir, it is so unusual a circumstance for me to find myself the subject of a debate in this House, that perhaps I may be allowed to say a few words with reference to what has been said by the right hon. Gen- 1819 tleman opposite. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with his usual kindness, has wished to press my statement upon the House to-night. I was willing to make that statement, and should, under any circumstances, have prefixed it with an apology to the House that a person occupying so humble a position as I do should move such important Estimates as these. If the Opposition, led by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone), had, out of regard for the state of public business, been willing to allow me to make my statement, and to follow it up by practical action in the shape of a Vote for the number of men, I was ready to undertake a task the magnitude of which no one who has not attempted to perform it can appreciate, especially when it is undertaken, as I may be allowed to say I have undertaken it, at three day's notice. Under the circumstances, however, I must respectfully decline to make a statement which is not to be followed by any practical action of the Committee. In conclusion, I have only to state that when my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. Corry) who will, I hope, be returned to the House in the course of next week—he having been eight years away from the Department over which he now presides, during which time matters have greatly changed—I may, perhaps, from the experience which I have gained in the last eight months, be able to be of some use to him. At all events, I shall be delighted to give to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire and his Friends any assistance that I can to elucidate the items of the Votes.
I rise for the purpose of explanation. I made no objection to the statement of my noble Friend (Lord Henry Lennox) being made if it were considered necessary or convenient by the Government. But I must point out that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not answered the rather important questions I put to him.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. I think the first question was whether the Reform Bill would be in the hands of Members on Tuesday? Certainly, I believe it will. I have no doubt of it. The second question was, as to the distinction between the £10 householders—those 1820 who were rated and those who paid by their landlords. My impression is that such a statement can be made out. I will communicate with my right hon. Friend the President of the Poor Law Board (Mr. Gathorne Hardy), and will give the information if possible.
§ MR. OSBORNE
I should be very sorry that it should go forth that this side of the House is unanimously of opinion that the noble Lord the Secretary of the Admiralty should not be permitted to proceed with the Navy Estimates, and take a Vote to-night. It appears to me that the public out of doors will not be satisfied unless the Navy Estimates are brought forward. Due notice has been given. My noble Friend the Secretary of the Admiralty (Lord Henry Lennox) is the recognised organ of the Government on the subject, and the First Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. Corry) cannot possibly take his place in this House till Monday. [Sir GEORGE GREY: The discussion will all come over again.] But why not give the Government a Vote on Account of the Navy Estimates this evening? "We know that subordinates in this House are generally so sat upon by their superior officers that they have seldom a chance given them of showing their talents. The ability for perspicuity of statement possessed by my noble Friend is recognised by all. I am sorry, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has on this occasion displayed such squeezable materials, and I think the House will do well to allow my noble Friend to make his statement, and, if necessary, to take a Vote on Account. We shall then be expediting the public business; at all events, we shall not be putting the country to any inconvenience. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will put the noble Lord up, and that we shall go into the Navy Estimates forthwith.
§ MR. HORSMAN
I think there is some misunderstanding as to the course intended to be taken by the Government, and as to what is the objection of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone.) It is very reasonable that the noble Lord should be permitted to make his statement and take a Vote on Account. If that is the intention of the Government no objection ought to be raised. But I understood the objection of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire to be that the statement ought not to be followed by taking the Vote for the Wages of the Men, which 1821 would involve the whole policy of the Estimates. That, of course, opens a large question, and I think it may fairly be considered by the Government whether in the absence of their recognised organ in this House it ought to be pressed forward to-night.
LORD HENRY LENNOX
If, Sir, I am allowed to make my statement, and carry forward the Estimates as far as I can in the same position and under the same conditions as if the First Lord of the Admiralty was, like the late First Lord, a Member of the House of Peers, I am quite willing to go into the discussion; but I must respectfully decline to make any statement on sufferance.
§ MR. STANSFELD
The noble Lord is labouring under some misapprehension. I can assure him that so far as my right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone), and all of us on this Bench are concerned, we are most desirous that he should make his statement. Our difficulty is this. The House is aware that when the Vote for Wages has been passed it is not competent to any Member to discuss questions of general policy. Now, there are a number of us, some upon this Bench, and some sitting behind us, who are anxious to discuss general questions arising out of the policy of naval administration. We do not doubt the ability of the noble Lord to deal with those questions or to reply to us; but we should like to hear the views of the late First Lord of the Admiralty, as some of us may have something to say upon them. Therefore, it is not so much the absence of the present First Lord as that of the right hon. Gentleman who was First Lord when the Estimates were prepared, that leads us to hope that the Government will, at and rate, consent not to take a Vote for Wages to-night, and will give us the fair opportunity of discussing the policy of the Admiralty, of which they ought not to seek to deprive us.
§ SIR HENRY EDWARDS
Should the suggestion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer be adopted by the House, we may have to wait till the end of the Session before an opportunity offers to discuss these Estimates, in the event of the first Lord of the Admiralty not being returned by his late constituency. The course taken by the Opposition appeared to him to have but one interpretation, and should the noble Lord be prevented making his I statement on that occasion the country would believe that the delay was caused 1822 by factious opposition. At the beginning of the Session the House was given to understand by the right hon. Member for South Lancashire that every possible effort would be made by those who sat on the other side of the House to assist the Government in carrying on the public business. But what had occurred since that assurance was given? Every measure brought forward by the Government had been, more or less, objected to. An objection was raised to the late Secretary for War (General Peel) bringing forward the Army Estimates, and now a similar objection was raised to the Navy Estimates being introduced by the noble Lord. After the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gladstone) upon this occasion the country would come to the conclusion that nothing was to pass this Session which the right hon. Gentleman and those who thought with him could possibly prevent being carried. He was much pleased to hear some time since the unanimous cheer from below the gangway when it was announced that the Government was to have fair play. He repeated, that if the House was prevented from going into the Navy Estimates that night, it would go forth to the country that those who sat opposite were the real obstructives, while those on the Government side of the House were doing their utmost to forward public business.
said, that there was a great difference between the case of the late Secretary for War introducing the Army Estimates and the present Secretary to the Admiralty moving the Navy Estimates. The House was willing that the right hon. Gentleman should explain the Army Estimates, which had been prepared under his directions, but he took no Vote for Men on that occasion. Taking into consideration the present state of the country and of Europe, he thought it un-advisable that any Vote should be taken in the absence of the present and the late First Lords of the Admiralty which would preclude future discussion upon important questions relating to the administration of the navy. He therefore hoped, if the noble Lord made his statement that night, detailing the general scheme and plan of the Government in reference to the administration of the navy, that no Vote for Wages would be taken.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, that the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had last spoken had inadvertently fallen into an 1823 error when he stated that his right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Huntingdon had not been permitted to take a Vote for Men on the evening when he moved the Army Estimates. His right hon. and gallant Friend did take a Vote for the number of Men. He did not see why any questions in connection with the administration of the navy hon. Gentlemen wished to discuss could not be brought on that evening, notwithstanding the absence of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty. As his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer had already observed, for several years questions of the first importance in reference to the navy had been always discussed in the absence of the First Lord of the Admiralty, who with the Secretary for War had sat in the other House. It therefore appeared to him that whether the matter was looked at in the light of constitutional practice or of convenience to individual Members, there was nothing to prevent Her Majesty's Government from proceeding with the public business, and of taking a Vote in the ordinary course. He thought that the public convenience would be best consulted by the House permitting the noble Lord to make his statement.
§ MR. SANDFORD
said, he wished to suggest that the noble Lord should adopt a medium course by making his statement, but not taking a Vote that would preclude subsequent discussion. Could not a Vote on Account be taken?
LORD HENRY LENNOX
I am sorry to be again obliged to trouble the House, or to appear unyielding, but in answer to the question of my hon. Friend I have to point out that the discussion of those questions would not be in the least degree less open if I moved these Estimates than it would be if they were introduced by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Corry). I must most emphatically say that I can only consent to move the Estimates to-night on the same conditions as if my Chief was in the other House of Parliament.
said, that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Huntingdon had prepared the Army Estimates which he had introduced, and therefore he was perfectly competent to give any detailed explanations which the House might require. But the First Lord of the Admiralty was not present to answer questions which hon. Gentlemen might wish to put to him on the subject 1824 of the naval administration. He therefore trusted that the noble Lord would not take any step which would prevent future discussion upon the subject.
§ MR. HENRY BAILLIE
said, he hoped that the Government would not bind themselves to follow the course of action dictated by hon. Gentlemen opposite. The course for Government to pursue was to bring forward their Estimates and to move a Vote for the number of Men. If hon. Gentlemen opposite thought proper to oppose the Vote for the number of Men they could do so.
§ Motion, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," agreed to.