HC Deb 03 March 1808 vol 10 c879
Sir J. Newport

rose, pursuant to notice, to move, "That there be laid before this house, a Copy of the patent by which John Giffard, esq. has been recently appointed to the office of Accomptant General of the customs in Ireland, together with a statement of the manner in which the vacancy of the said office took place."

Sir A. Wellesley

was of opinion, that the hon. baronet ought to have laid some parliamentary ground for the production of these Papers. He should have shewn, either that the person appointed to the office was an improper person to be appointed, or that he had been incapable of executing the duties of it, and therefore unfit to be appointed.

Sir J. Newport

had abstained from entering into the discussion more at length, in order to save the time of the house, but he would undertake to spew, if the papers should. be granted, both that the former dismissal of Mr. Giffard was right and proper, and that consequently, he was not a fit person to be advanced to the office he now held.

Sir A. Wellesley

stated, that the gentleman to whom the hon. bart. alluded had been an old servant of the crown, and had never been dismissed for any reason officially stated. He undoubtedly held opinions upon the subject of the Catholics, in common with the majority of the inhabitants of the united empire, and though he might have urged these opinions indiscreetly, at a time when the subject was under the consideration of parliament, that was not a reason why he should be perpetually excluded front office. The office of which he had been deprived yielded him 700l. per annum, whilst that to which he had been since appointed produced only 600l. As no ground had been laid for the motion, he could see no use in producing the papers called for.

Mr. Croker

thought that the dismissal of Mr. Giffard was, if not an arbitrary, at least an indiscreet act upon the part of the Irish government, and that the restoration of that gentleman to office was a mere act of justice. Mr. G. was not apprised of the disapprobation felt by government at the line of conduct he was pursuing, until after he had made his motion as a corporator of the city of Dublin. In making that motion for a petition to parliament, he was exercising a constitutional right, and certainly the gentlemen opposite, who, on every occasion, professed themselves friends to the right of petitioning, would not maintain that the exercise of that right ought to subject an individual to removal from an office purely ministerial. He was inclined to think that that great statesman, the late Mr. Fox, considered the conduct of the Irish government to Mr. G. as arbitrary.

Mr. Ponsonby

had never had any political connection with lord Hardwicke, but had enjoyed the honour of his acquaintance, and from what he knew of his disposition, he believed him incapable of acting in an arbitrary manner. But if no parliamentary ground had been laid before, the statement of the hon. gent. was sufficient, when he asserted that the conduct of lord H. was arbitrary, and in this he seemed to have made a bull, for his argument went against his vote. The individual alluded to had uniformly taken a line of conduct, and uttered sentiments offensive and injurious to the Catholic body, and as he was an officer employed under the government, it was thought right to dismiss him, in order to guard the government from being considered as approving of such conduct. As to the question, whether the dismissal under such circumstances ought to give rise to a perpetual exclusion of the individual, the Irish and British public would decide, whether the conduct of the present government, or of lord Hardwicke, was the more meritorious. He had been frequently consulted by that great statesman, Mr. Fox, whose loss upon every account is so much to be lamented, on the subject of the Catholics. He had enjoyed a considerable portion of his confidence, but had never heard him say a word upon this subject.

Mr. Fitzgerald, Dr. Laurence. Mr. Grattan, lord H. Petty, Mr. W. Smith,

and sir John Newport, in reply, argued in favour of the motion; and Dr. Duigenan and Mr. Perceval against it, when the house divided, For the motion 57; Against it 103; Majority against the motion 40.