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"1. Mr. Stansfeld,-National Expenditure,That, in the opinion of this House, the National Expenditure is capable of reduction without compromising the safety, the independence, or the legitimate influence of the country.
2. Lord Robert Montagu,-National Expenditure,-As an Amendment to Mr. Stansfeld's Motion :
nue and Expenditure, but may also afford the means of diminishing the burthen of those Taxes which are confessedly of a temporary and excep
[* The following Motions had been sary.""] placed upon the Notice Paper :
"That Her Majesty's Government alone are responsible to the House for the Supplies which Her Majesty asks the House to grant, and that this House alone is responsible for the sums which
have been voted.
"7. Sir Frederic Smith,-National Expenditure,-As an Amendment to the second paragraph of Viscount Palmerston's Amendment to Mr.
Stansfeld's Motion :
"3. Mr. Horsman,-National Expenditure, As an Amendment to Mr. Stansfeld's Motion ;"That this House, while deeply impressed with the necessity of economy in every Department of the State, and especially mindful of that necessity in the present condition of the Country and its Finances, is of opinion, that the sums voted under the present and late Administrations, in the Naval and Military Service of the Country, have not been greater than are required for its security at Home, and the protection of its interests Abroad. “4. Mr. Griffith,—National Expenditure,-As an Amendment to Mr. Horsman's Amendment:
"To leave out the words after 'observes,' and
to insert the words that, although some reductions have been made in the National Expenditure, reductions may be carried much further without detriment to the Public Service, and that the present condition of the Finances of the Country renders this proceeding urgently neces
"To leave out all the words after its Finances,' and to insert the words, will always be ready to make every pecuniary sacrifice that may be necessary to maintain the honour, the interests, and the independence of the Country.'
LORD ROBERT MONTAGU: Sir, I should certainly be glad to meet the wishes of the noble Viscount, and to consult the convenience of the House as far as I can. It is quite true that I did not give notice of my Motion in a spirit of hostility to the Government, nor, indeed, had it reference to any party or section in this House. It sprang solely from a sincere and honest desire to promote economy in the financial arrangements of the country in the only way in which that seemed possible-by insuring a better attendance of Members in Committee of Supply. I am exceedingly sorry to hear from the noble Viscount that this question is about to be converted into the stalking-horse of ambition, and the prostitute of our claims to power. I think it is a great mistake that such an issue should be raised on a matter that is really of the most vital importance to the country. I was present at the meeting of yesterday to which reference has been made, and I can assure the noble Viscount that no Amendment was either originated or discussed at the meeting; nor was that view taken of the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Cambridge University, in which the noble Viscount now says it is regarded. On the contrary, it was plainly stated at that meeting that this was not to become a party question, and that Lord Derby had no desire to turn out or embarrass the Government. I can only say, that if this is to be treated as a party move, and if we are not to be allowed to consider in a free and unfettered state whether economy cannot be enforced by the House, I shall wash
“5. Viscount Palmerston,-National Expenditure,-Amendment as substitute for Mr. Stansfeld's Resolution :
"That this House, deeply impressed with the necessity of economy in every Department of the State, is at the same time mindful of its obligation to provide for the security of the Country at Home and the protection of its interests Abroad: "That this House observes with satisfaction
the decrease which has already been effected in the National Expenditure, and trusts that such further diminution may be made therein as the future stage of things may warrant.
"6. Mr. Walpole,-National Expenditure, On Mr. Stansfeld's Resolution, in case it is negatived, and Viscount Palmerston's Amendment is put as a substantive Motion, to move to amend the second paragraph of such Amendment by leaving out all the words after the words' trusts that, and inserting the following words, the attention of the Government will be earnestly directed to the accomplishment of such further my hands of the whole business, and reduction, due regard being had to the defence of have nothing to say to any of the Amendthe Country, as may not only equalize the Reve-ments before the House. I have no ob
Motion agreed to.
House at rising to adjourn till Thursday.
jection to withdraw my Amendment on the understanding, that if the other hon. Members who stand before the noble Viscount decline to do the same, I shall be at liberty to bring it forward.
the past, and some confidence for the future. Now, that raises an entirely new issue. For my own part, not having approved the financial policy of the Government, but having of late carefully abstained from taking part in any discussion of it, I felt that the Amendment of the Government placed me in a difficult position. The Government having proposed that issue, I do not see how it was possible for the other side to meet it, except by an Amendment. My right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Walpole) adopts the views of the noble Viscount with regard to finance, economy, and retrenchment, but substitutes precise and explicit terms for the vague language of the Government Amendment, and indicates in what quarter a reduction should be effected. I have not heard any Gentleman on either side of the House expressing an opinion on this subject who has not said that, putting party feeling aside, ninety-nine out of every hundred Members in the House would prefer the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University to that of the noble Viscount. Perhaps I may express myself more strongly than I should do, because I have been so surprised by the decision of the noble Viscount. Having received an intimation that an appeal would be made to me to gave way to the Amendment of the noble Viscount, I came down ready to accede to the request, and without any intention of saying a word. But, when we are invited to lay aside the great question of armaments, and restrict ourselves to the issue whether one side of the House or the other is to
MR. HORSMAN: I must own that I heard the speech of the noble Viscount with some surprise, because the issue which he has placed before us was one for which I was certainly not prepared. I need not say, as the noble Lord has just said, that my Amendment was not framed in any spirit of hostility to the Government -in fact, that the noble Viscount felt that it was more flattering than he deserved is evident from the tenure of his own proposal. Certainly, until I heard the notice of my right hon. Friend yesterday, it was my intention to have persevered in my Amendment; I did not think that I ought to allow the noble Viscount's modesty to stand in the way of my carrying a Resolution which amounted to approval of the policy of the Government. But when I heard the notice which was given yesterday by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walpole), I felt that the noble Viscount's claim to precedence was quite irresistible, and I have no hesitation in giving way. I hope I may be permitted to say one word on what has fallen so unexpectedly from the noble Viscount. I speak merely as one who shares the common interest which we all have in the order and regularity of the proceedings of this House, and have no interest whatever in the party question. But, looking at the Notices on the paper, I do not think that the noble Viscount is quite justified in the tone which he has imputed, or the colour which he has given to the Amend-govern the country-when we are asked ment of the right hon. Gentleman. When to do this merely because one Amendment I read the Amendment of the noble Lord has been met by another which it clearly in the Votes I immediately said that Go- challenged, I say that the situation is vernment had thrown away the advantage falsely construed, and that the House is of their position, and had delivered them- placed in a false position. I am not at all selves into the hands of the House. The disposed to give hon. Gentlemen opposite hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) credit for any very great degree of virraised a direct issue. He asks, what is to tuous forbearance, but, on this occasion, I be our policy with regard to armaments? do not believe there was any intention to Are we to retrace our steps and go turn out the Government, and I cannot back to a system of gradual disarma- see how they could have avoided proment, or are we to continue a system of posing an Amendment in answer to that progressive and improved defence? That of the noble Viscount. is the challenge of the hon. Member. But the noble Viscount does not seem to me to meet it, for at the close of his Amendment he adds an invitation to the-but he has placed the House in a posiHouse to express approval of the finan- tion of great difficulty and embarrassment. cial administration of the Government in I hope it is not necessary for me to stateLord Robert Montagu
MR. WALPOLE: I feel, Sir, that the noble Viscount has placed not only myself that would be a matter of no importance
and I think my conduct in this House | undertake the responsibility of stating, at during the present and the last Session this moment, the particular course I shall would be sufficient to justify me in stating select in case the Amendment of the noble -that I had no intention to move any Viscount is moved. I hope, then, that Vote of censure or want of confidence in the House will think I am asking nothing the Government. If it had been intended improper if I request time for considerato propose a Vote of want of confidence I tion, and if I decline to express an opinion should not have been the man chosen on at this moment as to the course I shall this side of the House to bring it forward. feel it my duty to pursue. The Motion of I must tell the noble Viscount that it was the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stansfeld) will the last thing in my mind to bring for- probably go on. The Government may ward such a Motion. When the noble take what course they please upon that Viscount told the House that he consi- Motion, and they will have my support in dered the question now raised to be this- voting against it. But when the noble whether the Gentlemen on the one side of Viscount moves his Amendment, I entreat the House or the Gentlemen on the other him to allow the House a fair opportunity side of the House are to be called upon to—not to do anything to thwart the Goconduct the Government of this country, Ivernment, not to do anything to censure feel that it is hardly possible for me-due the Government, not to do anything to regard being had to the duty of this House disturb the Government-but to allow the -to consider attentively the merits of House a fair opportunity of determining such a question as this, being one of for itself-and it is a question for this finance and expenditure. I repeat, Sir, House alone to determine whether it will it is almost impossible for me to know come to any resolution as to the mode and what the course is which, under the cir- direction in which reduction is to be made, cumstances, I ought to take. On the one if at least reduction is to be made, and the hand, if I persevere in my Amendment, I finances of the country are hereafter to be may be the means of unseating a Govern- administered, so as to bring our expendiment which I do not intend to disturb. ture within our revenue, instead of leaving On the other hand, if I take an opposite us in a financial condition which may be course, I may preclude the House from a matter of the greatest possible embarexpressing an opinion, which I feel the rassment to the country. House ought to express, upon a most important question. Until this moment I was not in the least aware what course the Government intended to take in reference to my Amendment. Had I entertained an opinion on this question, it would have been this-that the Amendment of which I have given notice was in effect a complete support of the Government proposition against the Motion of the hon. Member for Halifax, only adding to that proposition such an intimation as I think this House ought to give. This Amendment is so framed that it should not be supposed to coerce or dictate to the Government, but rather to suggest, the proper course which it should pursue during the recess in reference to our expenditure and finances. The noble Viscount says he will not allow the House to consider the question, unless the House is also prepared to determine whether the Gentlemen sitting on this or those sitting on the other side shall conduct the affairs of the country. I say, Sir, that such an alteration in the course of our proceedings this evening is a serious one-nay, more, it is one of great gravity. I will not, then,
Mr. BRIGHT and Mr. DARBY GRIFFIHT rose, the House calling for Mr. BRIGHT.
MR. SPEAKER: I wish to remind the House of the exact state of business. There is no Question before the House. The Motion was disposed of before the noble Lord (Lord Robert Montagu) rose; but, as the noble Lord had been appealed to, I could not interfere to prevent his making his personal explanation to the House, and the same remark applies to the right hon. Gentlemen the Members for Stroud and for the University of Cambridge.
MR. DARBY GRIFFITH: I beg to move, that the House do now adjourn.
MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Member is out of order in rising while I am addressing the House. I will leave it to the House to consider whether it is convenient that this preliminary discussion should proceed beyond those Members who have been personally appealed to. I again remind the House that there is no Question before it.
MR. DARBY GRIFFITH (who spoke amid the impatience of the House): As I stand next in the list of Amendments on the paper, I hope that the House will
allow me the same opportunity of explain- | an Amendment when I put mine upon ing my Amendment which has been en- the paper. Had I done so, I should joyed by others. I confess that I have not have interposed between him and some reluctance to withdraw that Amend- the noble Lord. In framing my Amendment, because it appears to me to be the ment, I had no feeling of hostility towards best of all those that have been proposed. Her Majesty's Government. I am no party I will tell you the reason why-it dis- to any hostile movement, and I now untinctly raises the issue which has been derstand that my right hon. Friend is adopted and raised by the Amendment of equally free from any concern in it. This the noble Lord. The Motion of the hon. is a question of the defence or non-defence Member for Halifax refers to the future, of the country. Upon that question I felt and undertakes to recommend the House bound to go with the noble Lord in his to say, that reduction can be made without first paragraph, but not to the whole exreference to any facts with which we are tent of the second, because I feel most acquainted. The right hon. Gentleman strongly, from a recent inspection, which the Member for Stroud, on the other hand, has lasted several days up to last night, undertakes to say, that everything which and I should consider it my duty as an has been done in the past is perfectly un-officer to assure the House, that very conexceptionable. I an inclined neither to siderable retrenchments may be made. I answer for the future nor to respond for shall take the earliest opportunity of menthe past. We have already completed the tioning to the House certain works which word of the Estimates, and must abide by are going on, the expenditure on which what we have done. My Amendment, would be unnecessary and ruinous, and therefore, takes a middle course, and is, would make the taxation more than the like that of the noble Lord, equivalent, people could stand, and which, if conor very nearly so, to the Previous Question. structed, would cause weakness, and not ["Agreed, agreed!"] The only question give strength to the country. remaining is, as to the mode in which the Amendment of the noble Lord has been met. I entirely concur in the view which the noble Lord has taken of the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge. That Amendment raises no substantial, but only a verbal question, and could only be designed to effect a party triumph. I do full justice to the perfect sincerity of my right hon. Friend, and I am satisfied that his amiable disposition regarded the matter in the light in which he has tonight presented it; but, at the same time, I am convinced that the only meaning which can be attributed to the latter part of the Amendment is to spell the word l-e-e-k -that the noble Lord should swallow any leek that might be offered to him from this side of the House. I think that the noble Lord is justified in regarding this as a mere trial of party strength; and since, as an independent Member, I am not prepared to support such a proceeding, I shall withdraw my Amendment.
MR. BRIGHT: If we are engaged in an irregular discussion, it is owing to the course taken by the noble Lord at the head of the Government; and if the House is in any difficulty with regard to the Motions before it, it is on account of the declaration which he has made. He says, as I understand him, that before the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Walpole) there was not much difference of opinion-that the difference was a question of substantives and adjectives. Well, the substantives and adjectives of my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) are easily understood. They are not extreme; they are not offensive. I will undertake to say they meet the views of a large majority of Gentlemen on this side of the House. But the noble Lord was not willing to accept them, although he says there was little difference of opinion. We are all in favour of doing what we can to promote retrenchment. Why, then, could he not accept the Resolution of my hon. Friend? He objects to it for some reason which I am not able to discover, unless it be, as I am told, that it is not palatable for Gentlemen on that bench to agree to anything which is proposed by Gentlemen on this bench. That, no doubt, is an orthodox reason, and may be a very good one, but it is not satisfac.
SIR FREDERIC SMITH: Having been appealed to by the noble Lord to withdraw the Amendment which I have on the paper, I am most happy to accede to his request. At the same time, I beg to assure the House, that I was not aware that my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge was about to move Mr. Darby Griffith
MR. ELLICE (Coventry): I thought the hon. Member for Birmingham would have concluded with a Motion. ["Order, order!"]
MR. SPEAKER: It would certainly be convenient as well as for the regularity of our proceedings that some Motion should be before the House.
MR. BRIGHT: I understood the hon. Member for Devizes to propose a Motion for the adjournment of the House.
tory down here. The right hon. Gentleman | clearly and definitely expresses the eco(Mr. Walpole) has proposed a Resolution, nomical disposition of the House. I am which I wish very much my hon. Friend quite sure, that if the noble Lord asks the Member for Halifax had proposed, be- Gentlemen opposite to join him in rejectcause I think it rather better than his, and ing the Resolution of my hon. Friend the very much better than the Amendment of Member for Halifax, he has no reason the noble Lord. Now, there is a mode of whatever to ask, and I hope he has no getting out of the difficulty. The right reason to expect, that Gentlemen who sit hon. Gentleman the Member for the Uni- on those benches so treated-when he versity of Cambridge-we all know we says there is no difference of opinionmay take every statement of his with the should go with him into the lobby against most perfect confidence-says that he has what I call the definite but perfectly no intention of promoting a party contest, reasonable and judicious proposition of the and so much is he amazed at the conduct right hon. Gentleman opposite. of the noble Lord, that he positively for a moment draws back, and asks the House to allow him between this time and the time when the noble Lord's Amendment may become the Resolution before the House to consider what course he shall take. Well, we are bound to admit that the right hon. Gentleman has no object, in proposing his Resolution, dangerous or subversive of the existing Administration. If that be so-if we are all in favour of economy, and so much in favour of it that MR. ELLICE (Coventry): I certainly we do not object to any definite statement should not have interposed any words with regard to it-I should like to know of mine upon this subject were it not why we should have any party contest at for the remarks which have fallen from all? If the noble Lord does not like my hon. Friend the Member for Bira proposition from these benches, why mingham, who has not given notice of should not he take one from that (the any Amendment, but who concluded his Opposition) bench? I have seen him speech with a Motion which enables medo it once this Session, and on one occa-["No."] I certainly do not wish to be sion when I thought the right hon. Gen-disorderly, but I understood that either tleman opposite was wrong and the Go- he or the hon. Gentleman opposite had vernment was right. The Government proposed a Motion. ["No, no."] Well, as accepted his Resolution, and a great ques- a person who very seldom troubles the tion for a time was settled. If the House House, but has hitherto taken an indeis disposed for a debate, let us have a pendent part in its debates, I think a few debate. But I ask the House-especially words from me may set the House right those sixty or seventy gentlemen who, a with respect to the position in which year ago, requested the noble Lord, in we stand at present. As I understand, very civil and humble terms, to con- my noble Friend the Prime Minister gave descend in a little degree to diminish the no notice of his intention to make any expenditure of the country-Whether Motion on this subject till certain Amendthey now intend to set up the noble Lord ments had been placed on the Journals as dictator absolute upon this subject? of the House by different hon. Members, because he has told us in our hearing to- one more especially by my hon. Friend the night that this is not a question to be Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman). I do discussed on its merits-that this is not a not see what other course was open to question whether the expenditure is too my noble Friend if he did not intend high, but whether the noble Lord himself the debate to go astray entirely, and to or a noble Lord-I presume, in another get into the hands of a dozen Members place-is to be Prime Minister, and con- all with different views, save to state duct the affairs of the country. Sir, I re- fairly and openly the manner in which pudiate altogether any such issue as that. Her Majesty's Ministers intend to meet If we are in favour of reduction of expen- this Motion. Although I do not like diture, we have several propositions before abstract propositions, I have not the least us, and it is easy to take that which most objection-in fact, I entirely concur with