Monday, June 20, 2011

The answer

How silly of me not to think of Mr Google when I posed my question, encouraging readers to guess when a particular comment was made and in connection with whom. Those who guessed before or instead of discussing the matter with Mr G. came up with interesting replies (though I am still trying to work out what this comment means: "1946, Hitler/Nazi Germany, presumably talking about Churchill?". That got me well and truly confused.

However, it is clear that unless one happens to know or confers with Mr G. it becomes very hard to work out as the parliamentary comment could have been made about HMG and, especially, about the Foreign Office (now Foreign and Commonwealth Office) at any time in the last 200 or 250 years, perhaps more, which ought to be something we should all consider with due seriousness. In other words, it is not the people who are there now who are the problem but the whole institution in general.

And the answer? It was Lord Charles Beresford MP, speaking in 1902 in a debate on the following motion [scroll down for Lord Charles's fascinating contribution]:
That a sum, not exceeding £35,150, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1903, for the salaries and expenses of the Department of His Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
Now that I think of it, there has been an important change: Parliament no longer debates individual departments' budgets and, therefore, has no opportunity to criticize or analyze their performance. That, I can't help feeling, is a great shame.

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