HC Deb 29 March 1804 vol 1 cc1099-104
Mr. Alexander

brought up the report of the Committee of supply yesterday, when the compensation was voted to Lord Hood, and the officers and men under his command, for the value of the ships taken at Toulon in the last war.—The report being proposed to be read,

Col. Calcraft

observed, that Lord Hood had applied to the Lords of his Majesty's Privy Council, who seemed to think that his right was established. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, too, had at first spoken of the grant as a matter of right, but, after a little flourish, he thought fit to come round to the liberality of the House. That was certainly a very noble and a generous feeling; but in such times as the present, when the country had such taxes and other burdens upon its shoulders, he did not think that it would be right in members to vote away the money of their constituents upon claims of liberality only. It would not even be justice to themselves, who must in consequence bear a part of the expence, however it might suit gent, who had other advantages besides their fortunes to look to. He then moved, that the report be taken into consideration on Monday se'en-night, in order that there might be a more full attendance, and that members might have an opportunity of considering the subject more minutely.

Sir John Nicholl

asserted that all prizes were the right of the Crown, and not of the public; and the claimants coming with that support, had a just demand upon the public for the amount which was stated in the memorial.

Colonel Wood

observed, that different opinions were out of doors entertained respecting the nature of the service rendered by Lord Hood at Toulon; and it was doubted whether, instead of being rewarded for those ships which he had captured, he ought not to pay for those he had burnt.

Mr. Tyrwhit Jones

expressed his regret, that there should be any opposition to this report. What would be said by the British, commanders, when it was known that doubts were entertained in the House of Commons, whether they ought not to be compelled to pay for those ships of the enemy which they should burn? Was this the manner in which a transaction was to be treated, which rivalled those of Aboukir and Copenhagen in brilliancy. He heartily concurred in the motion for now reading the report.

Mr. Sheridan

said, he had read the papers relating to this subject with considerable surprise; but, at the same, time, he did not consider this an act which belonged to the character of the present administration, but as one bequeathed to them as a legacy by their predecessors. An hon. gent, had compared the operation of Lord Hood at Toulon to the victories of Aboukir and Copenhagen; but it never appeared to him in that point of view, and he had, on a former occasion, opposed voting thanks to Lord Hood, upon the ground that there was something disgraceful in the transaction. The destruction of the French navy had been said to be "sealed" at that time, and yet he could see that it was "sealed" again at Aboukir in five years afterwards; and again, in two years after that, another "seal" was put upon it at the Helder. As to the French ships destroyed, he believed Sir S. Smith did more in that way than Lord Hood; and he made it a subject of complaint against Lord Hood, upon a former occasion, that he had left a great number of the ships at Toulon undestroyed. The blame of this, however, rested with the commander in chief? but, in this case, what was to become of the distribution? How many of the persons employed upon that occasion were now alive? No previous inquiry had been made upon that subject. If Lord Hood was entitled to the condemnation of the ships, why not make the claim? Upon looking at the paper on the table, he found there were ships marked to the number of 9, which it was stated had never been brought out of Toulon. If they had never been brought out, how they could be valued as having been employed in his Majesty's service, he could not conceive. This was so unconstitutional a manner of granting public money, that he really could not think who it was that could advise such a proceeding, and that, too, for ships which never came into the service of the public.

The Master of the Rolls

said, that in the practice of states, as well as the conduet of individuals, there might be demands which they were bound to comply with, although there was no positive law upon the subject; they were bound to do what they ought not to abstain from doing. If Lord Hood could have proceeded to condemnation in the Court of Admiralty, there was no occasion to come to the House; and surely it would not be contended that the House was never to be liberal, except in those cases where they had no discretion.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

admitted, that 8 or 9 vessels were stated to have been brought out of Toulon: but the tact was, that these vessels were manned with British seamen, and carried the British flag; they were employed in our service in the Mediterranean during the summer of 1793, and were finally destroyed by the batteries of the enemy. The whole amount of the value of these did not exceed 7,000l.

Mr. Bankes

supported the grant generally, but was against giving any allowance for the S ships which had been referred to, or indeed for any other part of the estimates which was not fully made out to the satisfaction of the House.

Mr. Johnstone

denied that Lord Hood had it in his power to have taken the French fleet at Toulon, which was got possession of solely by a capitulation with the inhabitants of the town.

Mr. Alexander

contended, that Lord Hood was entitled to the proposed remuneration, both in justice and equity.

Mr. Burroughs

said, he was strongly in favour of the resolution: the proceedings adverted to were part of the system of warfare, and surely, it was not for that reason the noble Admiral should lose the right which attached to him in that capacity. It was clear, in point of law, that the King's prerogative attached to such captures as those under consideration.

Dr. Laurence

argued in support of the amendment. He at first adverted to the magnitude of the sum. He asked, when it was that due reward was not given to those who merited it, in the way in which the noble Admiral did? He was ready to agree as to the King's right of granting, in such a case, by virtue of his prerogative; but the case brought before Parliament, as it was, they should have some better ground to go upon than a report of the Privy Council. He claimed, as a member of Parliament, that some means be given of exercising their judgment upon that which they were called upon to grant. He could refer to every case which occurred from the reign of Queen Anne downwards. It was unnecessary to have adverted to the repeated votes of thanks passed by that House to the noble Lord in question. He duly appreciated his meritorious conduct on the occasion; the more so, as he, in a great degree, proceeded upon his own responsibility. The words of the Privy Council were, that some due rewards should be given; but if Parliament were to apportion those, some means should be afforded them of judging what was proper. In this instance, there was certainly a claim to equitable reward, and he wished it might appear on the face of the thing. He was averse to a general sweeping grant. He objected to the present mode of proceeding; at the same time he considered this affair as by no means a personal ministerial question; neither had it any concern with the late administration. He believed it resulted from an application to the equity of the Crown, as being originally grounded in no strict legal right.

The Attorney General

observed, that in such a case, the King, by his prerogative, might have given the ships, in the first instance, to the captors; but in consequence of the mode of proceeding which it was deemed proper to adopt, the value thereof was proposed to be given. Under the circumstances of this case, it was a matter of indifference, whether the possession was achieved by capture or not, as it was of that nature that was not distributable under the prize act, so that no right vested in the captor.

Dr. Laurence

wished that this grant should be stated in the Journals as proceeding on something peculiar to itself, that it might not be established as a principle.

The question being called for, the same was put, on which the amendment was negatived; and the resolution of the committee of supply, that a sum not exceeding 265,356l. be granted, &c. was formally ratified by the House.—Adjourned, for the Easter recess, till Thursday, the 5th of April. Abstract Statement of the PUBLIC INCOME of Great-Britain, for the Year ending on the 5th Jan. 1804. |N. B. All the annual Accounts of the Treasury are made up to the 5th of Jan.]

Branches of Revenue. Gross Receipt. Net Produce. Paid into the Exchequer.
Permanent Taxes £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d.
Customs England *9,689,886 2 7 7,207,570 4 6,803,820 17 1
Scotland *729,694 14 4 569,204 18 375,800 0 0
Excise England 18,193,954 3 11¾ 16,930,670 0 4 16,889,373 19 11
Scotland 1,394,323 14 4 1,441,541 13 1,086,000 0 0
Stamps England 3,241,791 3 3,144,633 0 2,997,134 12 6
Scotland 194,275 18 201,942 19 5 180,470 0 0
Land and Assessed Taxes England 5,560,233 0 5,685,932 1 5,123,299 8
Scotland 215,839 14 265,729 17 186,400 0 0
Post Office England 1,156,556 12 937,649 19 797,550 19 10
Scotland 117,321 11 6 137,950 1 0 97,449 0 2
1s. in the £. on Pensions and Salaries England 47,222 3 48,654 12 0 45,056 0 0
Scotland 3,860 10 3,629 8 11
6d. in the £. on Pensions and Salaries England 51,539 19 50,516 8 50,516 2 10¼
Scotland 2,666 10 2,649 17 2,642 17
Hackney Coaches 28,800 10 0 26,457 2 26,097 13 6
Hawkers and Pendlars 8,345 4 5,622 12 7 5,269 0 0
Total Ordinary Revenues 40,636,311 12 36,660,354 16 34,666,887 11
Small Branches of Hered. Revenue. Hanaper 2,000 0 0
Alienation Fines 7,125 6 8 11,680 3 10 5,702 5 2
Post Fines 511 6 3,248 12
Seizures, 79,390 11 1 79,390 11 1 79,390 11 1
Compositions 2 10 0 2 10 n 2 10 0
Proffers 637 0 3 637 0 3 637 0 3
Crown Lands 33,157 11 48,390 10 966 13 4
Extraordinary Resources.
Pd. on Acct. Interest Loans for Ireland 983,274 0 4 983,274 0 4 983,274 0 4
On Acct. Com. for Issuing Exch. Bills 174,000 0 0 174,000 0 0 174,000 0 0
Interest by Tr. of St. for Redem. of L. Tax 7,000 0 0 7,000 0 0 7,000 0 0
Fees of Regulated Exchequer Offices 30,915 6 0 30,915 6 0 30,915 6 0
Monies paid of the Public 4,539 18 11 4,539 18 11 4,539 18 11
Imprest Money from Accountants 73,369 9 11¾ 73,369 9 11¾ 73,369 9 11¾
Lottery Net Profit 352,333 6 8 332,507 2 5 332,507 2 5
Aid and Contributions 3,500 0 0 3,500 0 0 3,500 0 0
Arrears under Aid and Contribution Act 14,550 1 14,550 1 14,550 1
Arrears of Income Duty 343,359 14 414,096 2 360,971 0 11¼
Property Tax 16,917 13 0 16,917 13 0 16,917 13 0
Total 42,760,895 8 0 38,858,373 18 10¼ 36,757,131 3 11½
Loans, including £.2,000,000 raised for the Service of Ireland 11,950,000 0 0 11,950,000 0 0 11,950,000 0 0
Grand Total £ 54,710,895 1 0 50,808,373 18 10¼ 48,707,131 3 11½

Note.—The appropriated Balances in the Exchequer, on the 5th Jan. 1803, amounted to 9,800,659l. 12s. 9¼d.—and on the 5th Jan. 1804, to 8,812,339l. 8s. 4½d.—There was no unappropriated Balance in the Exchequer at cither of the above-mentioned Periods.—15,317,600l.were issued in Exchequer Bills, 1,658,880l. 2d, in Navy and Victualling Bills, and 142,722l, 6s. 3d. in Transport Bills, between the 5th Jan. 1803 and the 5th Jan. 1804, and not redeemed within that Period.

*Of these Sums, 8,090,055l. 6s. 7½d. were received for Duties Inwards, 382,548l. 14s. ¼d. for Duties Outwards, and 769,614l. 2s. 5d. for Duties Coast-wise.