A trap was laid for Ministers in the House of Commons last night. The House being in Committee on the temporary Sugar Bill, Lord GEORGE BKNTINCK submitted an amendment to substitute the 5th July 1847 as its termination instead of the 5th September 1846—
This would make the duration of the bill eleven months instead of one. His preposal, so far from obstructing the movements of the Government, would facili- tate them: it could not interfere with their permanent measure if they chose to persist in it; and if they thought fit to postpone it, his amendment would clear the way. It would be besides only an act of justice and mercy to the persons who are engaged in the:sugar-trade. Lord George ridiculed the idea of a sugar dearth; and quoted from a Mauritius paper to show that much larger importations than usual may be expected from that island. This, he thought, supported the views he had previously expressed on the subject of the large supplies to be expected from the East Indies.
The Cti.arca.u.oa OF THE EXCHEQUER deprecated any delay in the way of effecting a permanent settlement of the question—
All interests, even the West India body themselves, were anxious for such a -settlement. The amendment would defeat that object; and instead of doing Aced to the body whose cause Lord George had taken up, it would have an effect Me very reverse. Sir ROBERT INGLIS objected to the tone of certainty and triumph as- sumed by Mr. Wood. Mr. LasOITCHERE disclaimed the triumph, but objected to uncertainty and delay as, injurious to trade.
A division took place. For the original motion, 121; for Lord George Beatinck's amendment, 38; majority, 83. The report to be received on Monday.
On the motion for a Committee of Supply, several topies of minor in- terest were brought under notice.
Mr. CRAVEN BHTITCRI,EE moved that an address be presented to the Queen, praying that her Majesty's assent to the placing of the new Wel- lington statue, on the arch at the top of Constitution Hill, might be withdrawn. If the measures now in progress be carried into effect, the great national arch—the chief entrance to her Majesty's palace—would be converted into a laughingstock for all foreigners and persons of taste. Mr. Berkeley retul letters from Mr. Decimns Burton, the architect who built the arch, condemning the project; and he adduced other high authorities against it. Lord MORPETH, as an individual, did not approve of the site; but in his official capacity he did not see how he could interfere to prevent the fulfilment of a settled plan. He hoped that the persons who repre- sented the subscribers would accede to the offer made to them of another site. Sir FREDERICK Tamecu mentioned a number of particulars to show that it was not right to charge the managing committee with misconduct, because they had kept faith with the subscribers. Mr. Eweeir and Sir ROBERT looms followed, also disapproving; and ultimately Sir FREDERICK, in deference to the strongly expressed feeling of the House undertook to make a communication on the subject to the committee. The offer was ac- cepted: Mr. BERKELEY withdrew his amendment; and Lord MORPETH undertook that the works should be stopped in the mean time.
Mr. PHILIP MILES moved for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the circumstances connected with the granting of the contract to Messrs. Cunard for conveying the mails from England to Halifax and Boston. He dwelt on the hardship sustained by the Great Western Steam- ship Company in being excluded from competition for the contract, but obliged to compete in the passenger-traffic with a company receiving a large public subsidy: it was by their exertions that the expense of transit between the two countries had been brought to the present moderate amount, 301. or 251. instead of 40/. Mr. Gouutuntit explained the cir- cumstances under which the contract was originally entered into with the Messrs. Cunard, and renewed just before the late Government left office. In 1833 estimates were asked for by Government, and Mr. Cunard alone met the conditions. Subsequently, the terms of the contract were very much enlarged in favour of the public, and ultimately they stood in this form: Messrs. Cunard agreed to provide five vessels of 400-horse power each and to build them so as to be capable of carrying guns of a large calibre in the event of war, and to perform twenty voyages annually; and the payment was increased to 80,0001. The outlay has been repaid by postage receipts. On the renewal of the contract, the Messrs. Cunard became bound to pro- vide within a ,oertsin time such ap additional number of vessels as might be required to perform double the number of voyages, and to convey to New York "closed boxes" containing the mails for Canada, on being wad a proportionate allowance. Sir ROBERT PEEL recommended inquiry. The CastmEmon of the EXCHEQUER fully adopted the contract made by his predecessor, as most advantageous to the public; but would agree to in- quiry. On this assurance the amendment was withdrawn.
Mr. Tnoratis DUNCOMBE called attention to a petition presented from Edward Baker on the 12th of June, and moved that it be referred to a Select Committee. Baker had been a Warder of Milbank Prison, but, disliking the tyrannical conduct of Captain Groves, the Governor, he had been obliged to resign. The petition was made up of charges against the Governor,—that he had caused the suicide and death of a number of criminals, inflicted illegal punishments, used whips with handles and lashes of an illegal kind, and perpetrated many other acts of cruelty. Sir GEORGE GREY mentioned that Bakefe petition had been referred by Sir James Graham to the Prison Inspectors; and they had obtained written replies to each from Captain Groves. The Inspectors' report he would produce; but be would oppose the appointment of a Committee till the report was considered. Sir George promised inquiry into the matter of the whip and some other alle- gations of which he had not heard before. After a good deal of speaking, a division took place, and the motion for a Select Committee was rejected, by 56 to 10.
Mr. WARD, the new Secretary to the Admiralty, made a lucid and effec- tive speech upon proposing the Naval Estimates. A few of the points may be indicated—
The General Record and Record Office for Seamen had proved highly successful. Up to the 30th June, 219,266 register-tickets were in the hands of seamen. This system supplied a link between the mercantile navy and the Royal; and it would be the source and origin from which they. might at a trifling expense draw in time of need, and with proper organization, the most powerful naval reserve. It had not been deemed advisable to revive the "Merchant Seamen's Fund" Bill; the Government deeming it better to reconsider the whole subject. He believed that the maritime superiority of England was as great and decided as ever. As to the manning of vessels in case of a sudden emergency, he should be unwilling tardy upon the power of impressment alone: it would not do to oppose untrained men to trained and practised crews. He indicated a determination to make the service more attractive, by kind treatment and other inducements. He looked forward to its being the task of the present Board of Admiralty, profiting by the experience of its predecessor, to organize, complete, and systematize the great defensive arrange- ments now in existence.
Mr. Ward's speech extracted warm compliments from Sir Calmat NAPIER and others. The votes proposed were passed, with the usual desultory comments.
In the House of Lords, the St. Asaph and Bangor Bill passed. The other business was uninteresting.