Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/450

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is made or marred by their power of dealing with revenue questions, yet, in order to enable them to do so with intelligence, permanent officials are kept in office in the civil service of Government through all party changes. These permanent secretaries are charged with the duty of keeping the public accounts in such a way that, in spite even of revolutionary changes in party politics, the continuity of the financial history and of the records of account may be maintained with absolute integrity of purpose, so that there may be no break in the established system, whoever may be in power.

The names of Robert Giffen, permanent Secretary of the Board of Trade; of Sir Thomas H. Farrar, who for more than fifty years occupied a most important position in the service of the Treasury of Great Britain; and the name of the late Sir Louis Mallet, for many years permanent Secretary of the India Board, are well known to every economic student both here and abroad.

When one fully comprehends these conditions under which the conduct of the finances of Great Britain has been carried on for many generations, it no longer remains a matter of surprise that the knowledge of these subjects among the people of Great Britain is far above that of the people in our own country. The financial debates in Parliament are also so far above those of our own Congress as to leave little room for comparison. With a few conspicuous exceptions among our Representatives and Senators, there is hardly a man capable of making a financial speech that is worth any attention on the part of a student. There are many speeches delivered which contain valuable information, but these are mostly compiled in the party bureaus either by the clerks of committees or by others who are conversant with affairs, generally men who are competent to meet the requisitions of members when they desire to address their constituents through the medium of the Congressional Record.

When any great financial debate comes up in the British Parliament there is hardly a speech made which is not worth close attention, or which does not stand for the convictions of the speaker, based on his own knowledge of the subject.

The proceedings in our Congress offer a severe contrast. Witness the customary course in the treatment of financial questions. The annual report of the Secretary of the Treasury is laid upon the table of the several committees, who immediately ignore all the recommendations of the Secretary. The Committee on Appropriations immediately proceed to recommend the expenditures without any regard to revenue; while the Finance Committee in the Senate and the Ways and Means Committee in the House at once proceed to consider revenue measures without any reference whatever to ways and means, and with scarcely any atten-