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in the scientific Vote of 50,0001. Mr. Hunt next gave particulars of the considerable expansions of the original estimates for the great works at Chatham, Portsmouth, Haulbowline, &c. In the pay of dockyard men there was an increase of 86,0001., due to the addition of 880 men to the strength of the dockyard, bringing it up to 16,000 men. Reverting to the controversies of last year, Mr. Hunt said he completely adhered to the statement he then made as to the condition of the Navy, and he was inclined now to think that he had taken too small a supplementary Estimate to bring it up to a state of efficiency. But, compared with 1872-3, there had been an increase of one million in the ship-building vote. The chief feature of the dockyard work for the year would be repair rather than building, though at the end of the financial year there would be four new ships, and at the end of the next year four more. Furthermore, two new ships would be laid down to which the men could be put when the other work was finished, but the type was not settled. Two new fast despatch ships of the “ Arab" class were to be laid down. Mr. Hunt went into minute details as to the ships which are being built and the progress to be made on them in the year, amounting to 13,182 tons, employing 5,794 men in the dockyards, and 19,655 in private yards. There are forty-two ships building, including the ironclads " Thunderer,” “ Alexandra,” “ Téméraire,” “Inflexible,” and "Dreadnought," formerly the “ Fury," and the “Shannon.” He admitted that this was not all that was needed to put the Navy into a perfectly satisfactory condition; but he saw nothing in the aspect of foreign affairs nor in the condition of foreign navies to call for spasmodic efforts.
The Budget was an unexciting one. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had neither a deficiency to meet, nor a substantial surplus to dispose of, the expense of the current year being estimated at 75,268,0001., and the revenue at 75,685,0001. Sir Stafford Northcote had to reckon among the disappointments in the last year's income the deficient returns of the Telegraph Service since it had been taken in hand by the late Government; also a falling off in the Excise and Stamps. The only alteration in taxation which he proposed was in the trifling matter of brewers' licenses. But the chief feature in his proposals related to the National Debt; for the gradual reduction of which he suggested a new sort of sinking fund, involving an annual charge in every Budget for 28 millions. This would only come into full operation the year after next, and Sir Stafford calculated that by 1885, 6,800,0001. of debt would be paid off, and in 30 years' time, 213,000,0001. He dwelt on the objections both to reductions by casual surpluses and by terminable annuities, and said that Parliament, though it had done much, had no reason to be proud of its efforts for the reduction of the National Debt. The estimated expenditure for the current year he stated as thus :
£ Interest on Debt
27,215,000 Consolidated Debt Charges 1,590,000 Army
14,678,000 Army Purchase
10,785,000 Civil Service
12,656,000 Revenue Collection
2,694,000 Post Office
1,098,000 Packet Service
878,000 Total expenditure 75,268,000 The subsequent discussion, which was delayed for three weeks on account of the Irish debates, turned chiefly upon the Sinking Fund proposition, which was in fact the only feature of novelty in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's financial programme. It called up a formidable antagonist. Mr. Gladstone burst upon it with a variety of criticisms. On the 7th of May he spoke at great length to a House that was at first thin in numbers and cold in feeling, but which grew more numerous and more interested as he proceeded, and when he sat down there was a feeling that he had arranged his criticisms as skilfully as the circumstances of the case allowed. His attack was divided into two parts. In the first he sought to prove, and, prima facie, went a long way towards proving, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer's surplus was shadowy and untrustworthy, many items of charge being omitted from it that ought to have been included; in the second he attacked the particular form of dealing with the National Debt recommended by Sir Stafford Northcote. He claimed for himself an anxiety for the redemption of the debt not to be surpassed by that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. There were several ways in which the desired purpose might be obtained, and he was not fastidious in his choice. But the scheme which Sir Stafford Northcote had sketched was "totally unreal.” Disregarding the fact that for a period of the last thirty or forty years the aggregate excess of the expenditure had far outbalanced the surpluses, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had estimated that for the next thirty years there would be an annual surplus of 500,0001. “Why," exclaimed Mr. Gladstone, in the animated manner which had marked his delivery throughout, “ if he had a surplus of 500,0001. himself to begin with, there would be some spark of comfort in viewing the scheme, but he has not a farthing of surplus.”
His attack, however, failed to make an impression on the House. It was felt to be destitute of reality and force. There was nothing he urged which could not, by å mere alteration of terms, be advanced with equal cogency against his own scheme of reducing the National Debt by the conversion into Terminable Annuities of the National Debt Commissioners. It followed that as he spoke the answer to each sentence was forthcoming, and while the ease and neatness of Sir Stafford Northcote's reply to this part of his adversary's criticism excited admiration, its substance was well known beforehand. Sir Stafford said he would leave over some of the earlier points raised by Mr. Gladstone, as they would come up again in the course of the Committee, when, he said, it would be more convenient to discuss them. He replied at length to the late Premier's arguments on the mode of handling the accounts, denying that there was anything new in it as compared with the practice of his predecessors. He did not strongly insist upon the real presence of what Mr. Gladstone had called " that most shadowy, ghost-like surplus ;” but he devoted some time to the latter part of the indictment, which, he said, had, coming from such a speaker, "filled him with profound astonishment," and to which he replied, amid great cheering from the Conservatives, by citing Mr. Gladstone, the author of the scheme of Terminable Annuities, against Mr. Gladstone, the denouncer of the establishment of an artificial Sinking Fund for the extinction of the Debt.
Mr. Lowe, who rose next, was very outspoken in his remarks upon the financial policy of the Government, accusing the Chancellor of the Exchequer of indulging in “ all sorts of mental reservations about his Budget,” of “manipulating figures," and, in common with all previous Conservative Governments of modern date, of landing the country in debt, although only a year ago
we had left him six millions to play with, and he had since had a spendid harvest.” Mr. Lowe censured the levity with which the Chancellor of the Exchequer—whom he defined as an animal for producing a surplus-spoke of a deficit. The credit of the country demanded that the finances of the country should be managed so as to show a surplus, but a deficit was always characteristic of a Conservative Government. As to the Sinking Fund, it always had failed, and always would, because it could be plundered whenever necessity arose. The superior advantage of Terminable Annuities lay in this, that the people would consent to pay them, but they would not pay a Sinking Fund.
The Sinking Fund proposition was embodied in a Bill which came on for discussion a month later. It encountered a sharp attack again from Mr. Gladstone and other objectors, but was carried by 189 votes against 122. Once more the late Prime Minister had an opportunity of finding fault with the Budget when, at a late period of the Session, Sir Stafford Northcote produced Supplementary Estimates to the amount of 400,0001., including the cost of the Prince of Wales's projected visit to India. Sir Stafford was compelled to admit that the supplementary expenditure would exceed his estimated surplus in amount, but he defended himself on the ground that the money appropriated to the payment of Debt would be applicable to the service of the
year, and asserted that the excess of receipts over the estimated amount would still produce a surplus.
On another battle-field, for which it had been supposed that the ex-Premier was sharpening up his weapons, there was no array of conflicting hosts within the halls of Legislature. It had been anticipated, when Parliament separated last year, that this Session would have been taken up very much with Ecclesiastical controversy, as the last had been. There were exciting questions growing out of the Public Worship Act, as Rubrical revision, and others, which had then been started. But the winter recess had cooled men's tempers on these subjects; or the old habit of caution and letting things alone had supervened; and so the Session passed without any dangerous matter being mooted; the only Ecclesiastical debates being on the Bill for the division of the new see of St. Albans from the diocese of Rochester, which was carried by the Government without opposition, and on a Church Patronage Bill, and a Bill brought in by Lord Lyttelton for an Augmentation of the Episcopate, neither of which proceeded further than the House of Lords. Convocation met as usual, but did not venture on the dangerous task of Rubrical revision ; and early in the Session Mr. Russell Gurney, in reply to a question from Sir Wilfred Lawson, as to whether he intended to introduce his Bill dealing with "all offences by Clerks in Holy Orders against the Law Ecclesiastical,” said his hon. friend was probably not aware that at the time the intimation was given it was universally believed—and there was every reason to believe—that in the month of November last the judge who was appointed under the Public Worship Act would be also the Dean of Arches, and would, therefore, have to decide all matters of ecclesiastical offence. It was then thought desirable that, in all cases over which he had jurisdiction, the process should be the same. In consequence, however, of the postponement of the Judicature Bill, such was not the case, and at present the Judge appointed under the Public Worship Act had jurisdiction only over questions for which that Act provided. He had had, he might add, communication with the noble and learned Lord who filled that office, and that noble and learned Lord deemed it exceedingly desirable that there should be some experience of the working of the present system, before any change was made with a view to the extension of the Act. Under those circumstances, it was not his intention to propose during the present Session any such Bill as that referred to by his hon.friend; and in taking that course he would, he believed, be consulting the wishes, not only of the House generally, but also of those who, during the last Session, pressed upon him a contrary course.
of the fate of the Judicature Act itself, and of those matters of domestic legislation which constituted the chief practical results of the Session, we reserve the account for our next chapter.
Parliamentary proceedings continued—Judicature Bill-Land Transfer Bill— Agri
cultural Holdings Act-Act for Improvement of Artisans' Dwellings-Acts for amending Labour Laws-Sir Stafford Northcote's Bills concerning Savings' Banks and Friendly Societies-Sanitary Legislation-Merchant Shipping Bill
— Mr. Plimsoll's demonstration-Foreign subjects before Parliament - The Continent-Turkey-Central Asia-Proposed visit of Prince of Wales to India, and Mr. Disraeli's Speech.
It will be remembered that the discussion and passing of the Public Worship Bill at the concluding stage of the preceding Session had rendered it necessary to postpone the final steps regarding the Judicature Act Amendment Bill, which then seemed to be on the point of settlement. The principal feature of that measure had been the provision made for extending to Ireland and Scotland the transference of supreme appellate jurisdiction from the House oi Lords to a specially constituted Court, such as Lord Selborne's Act had provided for England and Wales. A slight recapitulation of the state of the case may be desirable. Great law authorities had, from time to time, recommended the fusion of legal and equitable jurisdiction, and the organisation of a single and final Court of Appeal detached from the House of Lords. Lord Chancellor Selborne, soon after his acceptance of office, introduced a measure sketched upon these lines, and intended to bring all our courts of law into homogeneous action. He was greatly assisted in his object by Lord Cairns, whose influence prevailed upon the Peers of the realm to concede with grace a right which, perhaps, they felt they could no longer exercise with advantage to the administration of law and equity. The Bill went down to the House of Commons, and was there so favourably entertained, that Scotch and Irish members saw no sufficient reason for confining its operations to England, and generally assented to the inclusion of Scotland and Ireland in regard to the matter of a final appeal in law cases to the Supreme Court constituted by the Bill. Lord Cairns, however, objected to this extension of the measure, as violating the exclusive privileges of the House of Lords, and it was thereupon given up, with the understanding that an amending Bill would be introduced in the succeeding Session to give the Peers a fair opportunity of deciding for themselves, in the first instance, whether the arrangeinent which they had conceded to England should be made for all other parts of the British Empire. Before Parliament met again the general election and change of ministry had taken place. One of the measures, however, announced' by Mr. Disraeli’s Cabinet was framed to carry into completion the Act introduced by Lord Selborne, and, in substance, supported by Lord