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doubtless shouted with the loudest for paper placed upon its edge, he began increased expenditure, who assure me a conversational exposition, which enthat any kind of fresh taxation will be dured, without a moment's interruption, a screw in the coffin of her Majesty's for more than three hours. Not a Government. (Laughter.)
word of it was read, except when he
had to refer to exact figures, which The Chancellor of the Exchequer has were accurately put down on pages of at the Treasury probably the strongest full-sized letter paper, which just staff of any Minister in the Adminis
fitted the box. The flow of lantration. He needs it. Without his staff
guage was uninterrupted, with just
enough inflection of voice to mark the even Gladstone would have collapsed
passages from mere statements of under the attack of “Budgetitis,” so
arithmetical bent to reflections upon enormous is the rush of business as them, or to consequent arguments and the time approaches for the annual conclusions. The order was perfect in financial statement. It is curious to its lucidity, and the sentences as faultread how Lord Althorp, who was Chan.
less as they were absolutely unhesitatcellor of the Exchequer in the early
ing. 'Thirties, used to do all his Budget cal
The Budget speech in the House of culations, however complicated, alone
Commons occupied four hours and in his closet. This system of working unaided in seclusion strikes the biogra
three-quarters. “Gladstone set figures
to music,” some one said. “Not one of pher of the noble lord as very admirable; and he contrasts with it the habit
us could think for a moment of interof William Pitt, who, as Chancellor of
rupting him, even to ask a question,"
says the Duke of Argyll, describing the the Exchequer, used to take a Treasury
scene in the Cabinet. clerk into his confidence. Pitt himself
But it is not
S tells us that he never had a private
always that the objections and doubts
of Ministers in regard to the Budget secretary, as he had no duties requiring such assistance; and Macaulay
are thus silenced by the magic of a
great financier. Indeed, Gladstone dwells in wonder on the fact that he
himself declared that no Chancellor of could explain a Budget without notes. Yet his first Budget in 1784 was very
the Exchequer should attend a Cabicomplicated. It dealt with as many as
net discussion on financial proposals a hundred and thirty-three different
without a letter of resignation in his taxes. In our times the Chancellor
pocket. Conflicts are inevitable, perof the Exchequer unfolds his Budget to
haps, between him and his colleagues
in reference to the estimates. His dethe House of Commons with the aid of
sire is for economy. He protests that a huge pile of typewritten documents. In the autobiography of the eighth
he cannot meet the claims of a col
league without imposing fresh taxaDuke of Argyll there is an interesting passage in which Gladstone's explana
tion. The Minister declines to accept tion of his first Budget to the Aberdeen
a reduction of the expenditure which Cabinet in 1853 is described.
he holds to be essential to the efficient
working of his department. The difHe came into the room with a large ference can be settled, if it is amenable flat, shallow, official box, very old and to settlement at all, only by the Prime shabby, covered with drab-colored
Minister. He possesses the controlling leather. He sat on a chair nearly front
power in the Cabinet; and in the ining the window, whilst we all sat in a
vestigation and settlement of differkind of loop around him. Opening the box on his knee, so that its lid stood
ences between Ministers his natural de. upright and afforded a rest for any sire, of course, is the stability and har
mony of the Government. If no set- deficit the Chancellor of the Exchequer tlement is possible then the Chancellor must devise means to meet it. New of the Exchequer or the chief of the de. taxes will have to be imposed, or existpartment concerned resigns. Lord ing taxes augmented. If, on the other Randolph Churchill fell in 1886, be hand, there is a prospective surplus, the cause he was unable with any regard Chancellor of the Exchequer chooses for economy to sanction the estimates the particular imposts to be modified for the Army and Navy. The cost of or abolished. Even if expenditure and these services is now so enormous that revenue are evenly balanced there is it governs the whole financial pro- always the prospect of some re-adjustgramme of the year, and yet they are ment of the public burdens-a transfer deemed to be so vital to the existence of taxation from one class of the comof the Empire that their estimates do munity to another class, from some not come under the supervision of the commodities to other commodities-beTreasury until the decision of the ('abi. ing announced by the Chancellor of the net has first been taken upon them. Exchequer. And as the financial seIn the “Life of Lord Randolph crets of the Government are never alChurchill," we are told that on his lowed to leak out until they are disreturn to the Treasury, after having closed by the Chancellor of the Exexplained his Budget to his colleagues chequer, "Budget Night is usually, -a Budget which was prepared but therefore, a night of surprises. never opened in the House of Commons There are two Committees of the -the officials offered him their congrat. House of Commons for dealing with ulations upon the acquiescence of the the national revenue and expenditure Cabinet. But he was far from conti- which are appointed immediately that dent. He had been oppressed by the the Address in reply to the King's silence which followed the explanation Speech is voted. One is called "Comof his proposals. "They said nothing," mittee of Ways and Jeans," and the he told Sir Reginald Welby, the Per- other "Committee of Supply.” The manent Secretary, "nothing at all; but Committee of Ways and Means deals you should have seen their faces.!" with the proposals of the Government
"Budget Vight" is awaited with in- for raising by loans, taxes, duties, and tense interest throughout the kingdom. imposts the money required for the adIt is one of the big occasions of the ministration and defence of the State. House of Commons-an occasion when In other words, it determines how the the House is crowded to its utmost ex national revenue shall be raised. The tent and is most animated. There is Committee of Supply decides what much speculation beforehand in re. sums shall be granted to the Crown gard to the proposals of the Chancellor to meet the requirements of the variof the Exchequer. The departmental ous State departments. In other words estimates have already been published. it settles how the national revenue is The state of trade is known. It can to be spent. The House, accordingly, therefore, be guessed whether the rev- goes into Committee of Ways and enue of the coming year will balance Means to hear and consider the Budget the expenditure, or whether there will statement of the Chancellor of the Exbe a deficit-an excess of the estimated chequer, expenditure over the estimated reve. It is a constitutional rule that every nue; or a surplus-an excess of the es demand for money on behalf of the timated revenue over the estimated ex Crown must originate in a resolution penditure. If there is a prospective proposed in Committee of Ways and Means. Therefore, when the Chancel- to be refunded. Such readjustment belor of the Exchequer has made his came necessary in 1885, when the Libfinancial statement he moves a series eral Government was defeated on the of resolutions providing for the con- Budget of Mr. Childers, after a resolutinuance, imposition, remission, or re- tion had been agreed to increasing the duction of taxation, which are dis- beer duty; and again in 1888, Mr. Gocussed by the Commitee of Ways and schen being Chancellor of the ExMeans, and may be amended or re- chequer, when a proposal to impose an jected. Even when passed by the increased duty on all bottled wines was, Committee they require confirmation by before the passing of the Finance Bill, Act of Parliament. To put it in an- limited to sparkling wines only. other way, the resolutions agreed to in The functions of the second commitCommittee of Ways and Means are em. tee for the transaction of financial bodied in a Bill, known as the Finance business, that is the Committee of Bill, which has to pass through all the Supply, are entirely different. It stages prescribed for legislative meas- considers the estimates of expenditure ures-second reading, Committee, and presented by the Ministers. The first third reading, and thus the House of day the House of Commons resolves itCommons is found, long after "Budget self into Committee of Supply after the Night,” discussing over and over again assembling of a new Parliament is the Budget proposals on one stage or marked by an interesting event. This another of the Finance Bill.
is the election of the Chairman of ComYet any new duties or increased du- mittees, an official almost as important, ties ou wines, spirits, beer or tobacco, if much less conspicuous, than the proposed by the Chancellor of the Ex- Speaker, for he presides in Committee chequer, come into operation the morn- of Ways and Means when the Budget ing after he opens his Budget in the is opened and discussed, in Committee House of Commons. That night the of Supply when the estimates are unnecessary instructions to begin levying der consideration, as well as in Comthe new duties or the increased duties mittee on the clauses of Bills. Since forthwith, are posted to the various 1853 he takes the chair as DeputyCustoms and Excise centres through- Speaker in the absence of the Speaker. out the Kingdom; and in order to give The office is held, like the Speakership, these proceedings an anticipatory au- until the dissolution of Parliament, and thority the resolutions sanctioning the carries a salary of £2500 per annum increased duties or the new duties are (half that of the Speaker), but, unlike passed by the Committee of Ways and the Speakership, there is no official resi. Means before the adjournment of the dence and no pension. The absence of House on Budget Night. The imposts, formality in the selection of the Chairhowever, are not legalized until the man is in striking contrast to the elabopassing of the Finance Act. That rate ceremonial associated with the inalone can give them the force of law. stallation of the Speaker. If, therefore, a resolution to which an- The appointment rests, like the ticipatory effect has been given is sub- Speakership, with the House itself, but sequently modified in the progress of whereas the election to the Chair is rethe Finance Bill through the House of garded as non-political-the proposer Commons any money collected by the and seconder never being Ministers or Customs or Excise authorities in ex- ex-Ministers--and is permanent, subcess of the amount to which legislative ject only to formal reappointment at sanction is ultimately given would have the beginning of each new Parliament, the office of Chairman is admittedly po. The Mace, too, is invisible, for that emlitical or party in its character, being blem lies on the Table only when the filled on the nomination of the Leader whole House is sitting and the Speaker of the House of Commons, and termin is in the Chair. A gentleman in evennating with the downfall or resignation ing dress or ordinary morning attire of the Government. Directly the order sits in the place of the Chief Clerk be“Supply" was read out for the first side the Clerks-assistant. This is time by the Clerk, after the assembling usually the Chairman of Committee or of the present Parliament, in February the Deputy Chairman, but it may be 1906, the Speaker left the Chair, and one of the temporary Chairmen, apSir H. Campbell-Bannerman, the pointed for the relief of those officials Leader of the House, simultaneously from the private Members of the rising, said, “I move that Mr. Alfred House. Deserted and unpicturesque is Emmott do take the Chair." The mo- the House, indeed, on nights when the tion was endorsed by a cheer from the money of the taxpayers to grease the Ministerial Benches, and Mr. Emmott wheels of that mammoth machine, the took the chair accordingly-10t the British Empire, and provide it with Speaker's Chair, but the place at the steam, is being voted by the "faithful Table usually occupied by the Clerk, Commons"; but at any rate if the prowho leaves the Chamber when the ceedings are dull they are usually pracHouse is in Committee. The Chair tical and businesslike. man has no distinctive costume. He The Chairman puts each vote to the usually wears evening dress. There is Committee in the prescribed form: also a Deputy-Chairman appointed like- "The question is, that a sum not exwise by the Government, at the com- ceeding £29,050 be granted to his Majmencement of any Parliament, who in esty to defray the charge which will the absence of the Chairman presides come in course of payment during the in Committee, and acts also, when nec- year ending the 31st day of Jarch, essary, as Deputy-Speaker. He has a 1908. for the salaries and expenses of salary of £1000 a year. Moreover, for the department of his Majesty's Secrethe assistance of the Chairman and tary of State for the Colonies." On Deputy-Chairman the Speaker nomi- the Treasury Bench sits the Minister nates a panel of five members, men of who represents the department for experience selected from all parties, to which the vote under discussion is react as temporary Chairmen of Com: quired. By his side is a small oblong mittee.
box, known as a "despatch box," filled In what a puzzled state of mind the with papers and memorandums of vastranger unacquainted with Parlia- rious kinds, to aid him in answering mentary customs and procedure must questions in relation to matters of ad. be who is present in the gallery of the ministration for which he is responsiHouse of Commons for the first time on ble. But however efficient and indusa night that the House is in Committee trious the Minister may be it would of Supply! He cranes his neck as far be impossible for him to carry in his over the high barrier in front of him head or in his notes all the details of as those sharp-eyed attendants in even the work of his department. Seated ing dress, with gilt-chains on their close at hand, therefore, on a bench breasts, will permit him, and sees-- immediately behind the Speaker's Chair what? Well, not much more than are one or two of the permanent ottiempty benches. He is surprised to ob- cials of his office ready to supply him serve that the Speaker's Chair is empty. with any information he may lack. A
Member rises and calls attention to ingham Palace, and £10 to the ratsome new or unexpected subject. catcher of Windsor Palace, but I have Left to himself the Minister probably seen this question debated for hours would be unable to give any definite with the greatest interest, not to say information in regard to it. But he excitement, by Radical Members when disappears behind the Speaker's Chair, a Unionist Government was in office. consults for a minute or two with his “This House," one of the Standing official advisers and then returns to the Orders declares, “will receive no petiTreasury Bench competent to cope tion for any sum relating to public serwith the matter.
vice, or proceed upon any motion for a It is these out-of-the-way questions grant or charge upon the public reveon small things, perhaps, but of per- nue, whether payable out of the Consonal interest, rather than matters of solidated Fund or out of money to be policy, abstract and general, that con- provided by Parliament unless recomtribute the element of entertainment to mended from the Crown.” In other proceedings in Committee of Supply. words, the House of Commons can Notwithstanding the changes which are make no money grant except on the being continuously made in the persone initiative of a responsible Minister of nel of the Legislature by death, by the Crown, in which, of course, is inresignation, and the ill-fortune of Gen- volved the sanction of the Cabinet. It eral Elections, there are always in the follows from the principle embodied in House a number of Members who de- this Standing Order that unofficial light to burrow into the three pon- Members are precluded from proposing derous quarto volumes-each with its the increase of any of the estimates in hundreds of pages crammed with tig. Committee of Supply. This restriction ures-issued every year, containing the on the privileges of Members of Parliaestimates for the Army, Navy and Civil ment provides a salutary check to exService respectively; and passing by travagance, and places a decisive bar to items of expenditure millions in the demands of constituents for adamount, call attention, in Committee of ministrative action or legislation at the Supply, to insignificant, but none the public expense. But if a Member canless interesting, demands on the public not move to increase a vote he may purse. The votes for the Civil Service propose to reduce it. A motion to reafford the most opportunities for the duce a vote by a nominal sum is a display of this sort of futile industry common thing in Committee of Supply; and pitiless economy.
and it is done for the purpose of giving For instance, when the Chairman in an additional emphasis to a complaint forms the Committee in the usual form against the Minister of the department that a sum not exceeding £17,062 be - whose salary is covered by the vote granted to his Majesty for the mainte. -on account of some question of adnance and repair of the palaces in the ministration. Committee of Supply, personal occupation of his Majesty, a therefore, affords to the representatives Member may rise and ask the President of the people opportunities for calling of the Board of Works, to whose de- attention to abuses and demanding the partment this vote belongs, why it is redress of grievances. In olden times, the ancient office of ratcatcher to the when the entire executive authority royal palaces is not abolished. The was vested in the King, when Ministers abolition of the office would mean a were appointed by him and responsible saving of only £18 a year to the State, to him alone, the representatives of the £8 being paid to the ratcatcher of Buck- people in Parliament insisted upon sat