HC Deb 24 January 1809 vol 12 cc114-31
The Chancellor of the Exchequer,

pursuant to notice, rose, to submit to the consideration of the house a motion for the re-appointment of the Committee of Finance. If he had barely to propose the revival of the same Committee, composed of the same members and consisting of the same number, as in the last session, he was sensible, that it would not be necessary for him to take up much of the time of the House; because he could not conceive any possibility of opposition to such a motion. But, as he meant to suggest an alteration in the constitution of the Committee, he was desirous previously to state to the: House the actual circumstances, under which he proposed to have the Committee reappointed; at the same time reserving what he might have further to say, until he should hear what objections, if any, would be started against his motion. The alteration he had it in contemplation to propose, was a reduction of the number, of which the Committee was composed. Hence it became necessary for him to state briefly the grounds, upon which he was induced to recommend this reduction. The hon. gent, who filled the chair of that Committee last session (Mr. Bankes) would be ready to admit, that the idea of reducing the number of which the Committee had originally consisted, had been adopted on his suggestion. That hon. gent, had stated it as his opinion at the close of the last session, that, with a view to dispatch in the proceedings of the Committee, it was necessary to diminish the number of its members. If that dispatch could be attained without any sacrifice of that useful and necessary deliberation, which was essential to the due and faithful performance of the duties confided to the Committee, it would necessarily be an object highly desirable to be accomplished. Undoubtedly, dispatch might be insured by the appointment of a Committee, all the members of which should be of one mind. But then, it was only by the conflict of different opinions and views upon the important questions, which should occupy the attention of the Committee, that any clear light upon the objects of their deliberation was to be expected. If the motion, therefore, which he was to submit, were to be in the hands of the gentlemen opposite, he was confident that they would not think of nominating any greater number of the gentlemen, who sat on their side of the House, than he meant to propose of those, who sat on his side, to be of the Committee. It was the uniform practice, in appointing Committees of this nature, to secure enlarged discussion, by procuring persons of different views, in order that the suggestion of those different views, by individual members, might lead to more enlightened decisions in the deliberations of the collective body. In attending to this object, and reducing the number of members of the Committee, he was aware of the inviduous task he had to perform, in making, a selection from the members of the former Committee. No- thing could be more unpleasant than the discussion of individual qualifications, for the performance of such a duty as would belong to a member of such a Committee. That was a course, however, which it was not his intention to adopt, as amongst the names of the Committee he proposed to submit, he did not mean to recommend any one who had not been upon the former Committee. All he professed to do was to reduce the former Committee from twenty-five, of which it was last session composed, to fifteen, by leaving out ten of the former members. Even his hon. friend from whom the suggestion of the reduction had proceeded, would agree that it was not desirable that the Committee should consist of a less number than fifteen.—Before he should submit his first motion, that the Committee be reappointed, to which no objection could be made, he proposed to read over the list of names as he wished them to stand in the new Committee; and on an examination of the list it would appear that, in the selection of those names, he had left out a greater number of those who, from political habits and individual opinions, had been more accustomed to vote on his side of the House, than of those who usually voted on the opposite side.—The right hon. gent, then read the list of fifteen, viz. Henry Bankes, esq. Henry Thornton, esq. J. H. Leigh, esq. lord Henry Petty, Henry Joddrell, esq. Isaac H. Browne, esq. Hon. Dennis Browne, R. M. Biddulph, esq. Richard Ellison, esq. Nicholson Calvert, esq. James Brogden, esq. right hon. P. Carew; right hon. H. Grattan, Richard Wharton, esq. and lord A. Hamilton. And he moved, "That a Committee be appointed to examine and consider what regulations and checks have been established, in order to controul the several branches of the Public Expenditure in Great Britain and Ireland, and how far the same have been effectual, and what further measures can be adopted for reducing any part of the said Expenditure, or diminishing the amount of Salaries and Emoluments, without detriment to the public service".

Mr. Bankes

was ready to bear testimony to the readiness with which his right hon. friend had acceded to his suggestion as to the propriety of reducing the number of the members of the Committee. In the long experience of last session it was but too obvious that the Committee was too numerous to prosecute its labours with any desirable effect. Of the certainty of this they had a proof in the circumstance that the Committee had been able to make but one report, and that at the end of the. session. But, in thus acknowledging thanks to his right hon. friend for his concession, he was sorry he could not carry his concurrence further. His right hon. friend had very properly abstained from the inviduous task of discussing the qualifications of individuals to be members of the Committee. That was a task which he also should decline, though upon such an occasion he could not allow it to be unparliamentary. But nothing was more opposite to his nature and habits, than to give private offence upon public grounds. From the situation which he had filled in the former Committee, he supposed his right hon. friend wished (indeed he had signified to him his wish,) that he should again act as chairman. Whilst he was chairman he had employed all the diligence which his humble abilities enabled him to exert, and he had the satifaction to know, that all those who were his colleagues, as well those who differed as those who agreed with him, had thought him not unfit for the situation. He was aware of the humility of his own pretensions, but though convinced that many others were more competent from their talents, he was certain that no person could go beyond him in zeal, assiduity, and diligence. It was due, however, to himself, to state, that if he should, in the present instance, be designated for that situation, with a list so constituted, it was impossible for him to undertake the duty. He had only to add, that no consideration should induce him to act in that capacity with a Committee so composed. At the same time that he admitted that some names were retained, he must observe, that several names were omitted, of persons, whose services upon the Committee would have been highly beneficial to the public interest. He did not mean to impute any unworthy motives to his right hon. friend, yet he could not but feel that a Committee, such as he had proposed, was only calculated to delude the public, and frustrate the ends of inquiry.

Mr. Peter Moore

was glad to hear what had fallen from the hon. gent, because if he had not stated his sentiments, as he had clone, he was prepared himself to give expression to similar sentiments. After all the Reports, which had already been laid before the house, session after session, by former Committees, without producing one effectual step on the part of his majesty's ministers to remedy any of the abuses pointed out to them, or causing any effectual step towards a serious system of public economy to be taken, the public would conceive the nomination of such a Committee as the present, a mere farce to cajole and delude them. What had been done by the right hon. gent, at the head of the finance department in consequence of the first great recommendation of the former Committee of which the hon. member who spoke last had filled the Chair, in respect to the bargain with the Bank of England? Why, that a sum of 60,000l. was taken as an equivalent for their advantages in the management of the public money, when 260,000l. ought to have been demanded. He considered this as nothing else than a bribe to the Bank out of the public purse, while the fight hon. gent, was obliged to make good the deficit by laying new taxes upon the country.— The next prominent point was, the recommendation in the report of the former Committee, respecting the gross defalcation that had occurred in a department of great public expenditure, at the head of which was the right hon. Thomas Steele, who had taken above 19,000l. under false pretences; and what had been done by his majesty's ministers in that case? Why, nothing more than merely to demand of him the payment of the money, instead of directing the king's Attorney-General to institute a prosecution against him. The third Report recommended the abolition of sinecure places, with enormous salaries. But what had been done? Why, to employ new clerks to correct the errors of inefficient clerks, but without any measure of public economy being adopted. If his majesty's ministers were really serious in their wishes to check abuses, to stem profusion, and to economize the public purse, they had ample grounds to proceed on in the Reports of the Finance Committees already laid upon the table of the house within the last three years. Judging, however, from their utter supineness, and obvious contempt of those Reports and the measures therein recommended, he could not help considering the nomination of such a Committee as a mere delusion, and that as little was meant to be done in the three years to come, as in the three years last past. There was every reason for the people to murmur at the delusive result of a system from which they were taught to expect economy and reform. Instead of which, the system of expenditure, for several years past, was rather for a war upon the purses of the people than for a war against the common enemy. The Finance Committee in 1797, made 24 Reports; that in 1798 made 12 more, all containing the most important, clear, decisive, intelligent, and instructive information on the state of the finances of the country; and what had ministers done inconsequence? Not one thing. The same was to be said of the Reports of the last three years, and every thing they recommended. Where, then, was the use of appointing a new Committee, if the same system was still to go on? There were other gross abuses in another department wilder an hon. gent, opposite, which he should notice at another opportunity; but he would repeat, that if any thing of reform or economy was sincerely intended, the mischief and the means of redress would be found stated in the Reports already before the House. It would, however, be impossible to avoid the continuance of peculation, profusion, and abuse, unless the house should demand and insist upon having the accounts of the public receipt and expenditure for one year, before they voted a shilling of new supply for the next. The right hon. gent, at the head of the Finances had declared he had no objection to the principle, and ministers could find no difficulty in being ready with those accounts at the opening of the session, or in enforcing the payment of all monies, in the hands of public men, into the Treasury. A million of which appeared to be outstanding in balances, of which a considerable portion, as he should hereafter shew, would never come into the Treasury. If they did not do this, they could not know how the public money was appropriated. Mr. Pitt himself, that great professor of finance and economy, did not know it, as was shewn upon the trial of lord Melville. It was therefore indispensably necessary, that the house of commons should let the public see they were determined to do their duty, and that the object of the house of commons in the present state of public affairs was to alleviate the public burthens as far as consistent with their public duty, and not to improve the private incomes of persons in office.

Lord Henry Petty

expressed his acquiescence in the opinion delivered by Mr. Bankes. Without arrogating any superior pretensions, he wished to declare to the house, that, though the rt. hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer had thought proper to appoint him on the proposed Committee, he still considered that he should act most consistent with his public duty, by abstaining from any attendance on it.

Mr. Yorke

observed, that the statement of the right hon. gent, had placed the house under very aukward circumstances; because, if the Committee should be reduced as proposed, after the stigma cast upon it by the observations of the hon. gent. (Mr. Bankes), it would be quite impossible, that the public should have any confidence in its proceedings. If the opinion should go abroad, that the Committee had been revived under any suspicious circumstances, the impressions it would make would not easily be removed. It did not become that house to receive a list of the Committee it was to appoint, from any particular member, or set of men; neither from his right hon. friend nor from any other individual in the house. The public would expect, that such a Committee should be selected from all descriptions of persons in the house. But here he would observe, that upon the subject of this Committee much misapprehension seemed to pervade the public, as if a great pecuniary saving was to result from its labours, and consequently a sensible relief from the present burthens. This was an expectation which he did not think would ever be realized. Many salutary retrenchments and useful reforms might no doubt be the consequence, but, in point of an immediate or sensible relief, in a pecuniary way, to the public, little of that description was to be looked to. Me did not mean to say that abuses did not exist that might demand reform; and if the Committee was to be revived, it would be better to re-appoint it just as it stood before, than force the house to the invidious task of discussing the merits of particular men. But for his part, he was not quite sure it was necessary to re-appoint the Committee at all. In all events, he thought it would be better to give the house a day for examining the reports already made, and afterwards re-appoint the Committee, if it should appear necessary.

Mr. Whitbread

agreed, that it would be much better that the Committee should be revived as it existed last session, than in the reduced state proposed; or even that it should not be revived at all, because then no delusion would be practised upon the public. He agreed with the right hon. gent. (Mr. Yorke) that the house ought not to accept a list from any individual, and, if not, a fortiori, not from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But he would put it to that right hon. gent, whether he would not think a nomination of a Committee, coming from the hon. member who first opposed this list, as an independent country gentleman, infinitely better than one from any Chancellor of the Exchequer, be he who he might. The hon. member who first opposed this list, had acknowledged his own suggestion for a reduction of the number of the Committee; but it was obvious to himself that great partiality might be used in the omission of particular names, and the retention of others that were highly objectionable; though he would admit, that some names were left out as objectionable as any that were retained. Upon one name in this list particularly he had objected upon what he conceived to be good grounds. A question had been put upon that name, and his objection was over-ruled; and he certainly should feel it his duty to repeat his objection against it now, and put it again to a question. The public had certainly a right to expect, from the original appointment of the Finance Committee, that much public good would be derived; and, undoubtedly, if the Reports that had already been made had been acted upon, hundreds and thousands, nay, millions of money, might have been saved to the country. Of what effect was it for the Committee to deliberate and report, if their recommendations were to remain a dead letter? Was it expected that they would live centuries?—and centuries they must live to produce any effect, if it was considered that in the whole of the last long session, they were enabled to produce but one Report. The hon. gent, who first opposed this list had shewn the greatest zeal and ability in his endeavours to render the labours of the Committee efficient for the purposes of their appointment; no man was a more competent judge than himself of the men most likely to co-operate with him for purposes so desirable. He therefore thought the house had a right to call upon the hon. gent, for a list of fifteen names of such men as he would wish to act with, and in the name of the country he called upon him to produce such a list. But a list from the Chancellor of the Exchequer was a mere farce, and as such it would be considered by the people.

Mr. R. Wharton (Chairman of the Ways and Means)

said, that after what had fallen from several gentlemen who had spoken on the subject then before the house, he deemed it necessary, that he, situated as he had been, and particularly objected to on the appointment of the Committee, should request the house to indulge him with their attention till he offered a few observations, lie had endeavoured to discharge the trust which the house had done him the honour to confide to him, with every possible degree of assiduity in his attendance, and the most anxious desire to contribute all in his power to effect those important objects which it appeared to him the house had in view, in appointing the Committee of which he had been a member, and which was now intended to be revived. Various important matters had been brought under the consideration of the Committee, upon which various differences of opinion prevailed; in consequence of which, discussions took place, which ended without effecting any change in the opinions of either of the parties each side having used every means in their power to carry the point respectively insisted upon. It had been stated, therefore, that there were many delays during the time that the Committee was in the exercise of its funcions. He allowed this to be the case, but he was at the same time bold to say, that those delays had, in a great measure, proceeded from a voluminous political treatise which had been introduced by the hon. gent, who was chairman of the Committee, and he believed that every opposition that paper had met with, either from himself, or any other hon. member of the Committee who thought proper to object to it, arose from a consciousness on their parts, that the paper, he alluded to, contained many particulars relative to the prerogative of the crown, and other matters not at all relating to the expenditure of the public money, and which he himself and the gentlemen who thought as he did, from time to time opposed, because they did not think it proper to register the hon. chairman's edict, without having examined its various contents and their several bearings; more especially, as he thought that it contained many things which were never in the contemplation of the house to enquire into when they appointed the Committee. For his own part, he had been actuated by no other motive than a real regard and zeal for the public interest, and as such had pursued the line of conduct which appeared to him most conducive to that end; and he should, therefore, by no means regret his name being left out of the Committee, if the house should think proper to revive it.

Mr. Alderman Combe

bore testimony to the diligent, active, and enlightened conduct of the chairman, who, in preparing his Report, acted in compliance with a request of the Committee, and in conformity with the general practice of all committees. For his part, he would attend the Committee, because he hoped to benefit the public by so doing.

Mr. Sumner

thought the attack of the hon. gent, who had spoken last but one as most unkind upon the chairman, to whose diligence and ability he bore ample testimony, having attended as regularly as any member of the Committee. The Report had been produced by the chairman when a return had been made of the public establishments. There had certainly been a considerable difference of opinion as to many very important points among the gentlemen who composed the Committee; but, he believed, none which were made from any other motive than that each individual thought it his duty to oppose every matter which he did not think for the public interest, or not within the view of the house in appointing the Committee. The question respecting Sinecure Places had been debated during five days, and in the end agreed to in a large and full attendance, when there were nineteen members present, and yet that passage, which he should ever regret, as having been left out of the Report, had afterwards been expunged at a meeting which took place, when many of the members of the Committee had left town or neglected to attend, in consequence of an impression that the business of the Committee had been brought to a close for that session: as to the delay that had taken place in the proceedings of the Committee, it was chiefly attributable to the lion, member on the floor (Mr. Wharton) who bad spoken no less than eight different times, as he distinctly remembered, upon the passage, to which he had alluded, and yet said nothing in the last seven times that he had not said in the first, nor any thing in either instance, that he had not said seventy times before.

Mr. Denis Browne

stated, that most of the longest debates had taken place in the Committee upon the subject of certain passages in the political treatise of the hon. gent, which would have gone to disjoint the state, and which, if returned to the house, it would not have acted upon. It was the duty of the Committee in that case to place itself between the treatise and the house. The voluminous treatise had undergone several alterations, and upon one part even the noble lord upon the floor (lord H. Petty), had divided in the majority against the Chairman.

Mr. Bankes

stated, in explanation, that he had prepared the Report at the request of the Committee, and had read it to the Committee before the Easter Recess, in order that the members might have time to consider of its contents, before they should be called upon to discuss or agree to it.

Lord A. Hamilton

bore testimony to the diligence, zeal, and ability of thy hon. chairman of the Committee. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer should persist in his nomination, and the late chairman should decline to act, the right hon. gent, would not find any other gentleman to sit in the chair. He had only to add, that the hon. gent, opposite (Mr. Wharton) had given himself a specimen of the contrariety of opinions which had prevailed in the Committee.

Mr. Ellis

said, a right hon. friend of his (Mr. Sumner), had stated, that some alterations had taken place on the last day of the meeting of the Committee. He believed there was some trifling amendment made in one part, of a few words only, "that it might be expedient to reduce the salary of some, and to abolish others;" but this was done alter very ample discussion, and in making it there could be no colourable imputation of surprise on the Committee, hi the treatise which had been alluded to, there was a dissertation on the increase of the influence of the crown, which, eloquent as it was, contained sentiments of which he could not approve, and he therefore gave it his decided and hearty opposition. Objections had, however, been made as to the style and manner in which several members of the Committee had carried on their opposition. For his own part, he could only say, that he had acted for the best, and he verily believed every other hon. gent, had done the same, and there was certainly not a stronger proof of a vexatious opposition on their part, than on that of the other side.

Mr. Calvert

observed, that if it was thought impossible to reconcile gentlemen whose opinions clashed so much as those whose names were proposed, it would be better to nominate a new committee altogether. He recommended proceeding on the Reports already laid before the house.

Mr. Long

said, that it was not fair in the hon. gent, to argue that so many reports had been made, and not acted on. The first report made by this Committee relative to the Bunk had been most carefully attended to and acted on, and the public had already derived considerable advantages from it. In regard to the second, which related to the Pay Office, he had immediately acquiesced in the sentiments of the Committee, and there was not one of the regulations they had recommended that he had not attended to, and so far adopted as was in his power. As some of these would require an act of the legislature, it was his intention to bring it forward, but he had not yet been able to do it. In every other instance the utmost deference had, in that department, been paid to the regulations proposed by the Committee. As to what had fallen from an honourable member respecting a gentleman who had been in the Pay Office, but who was not now a member of the house, an inquiry had immediately been instituted; and he found that the sum, whatever it might have been, had, been paid into the office by the gentleman alluded to.

Mr. P. Moore

said, the allusion he had made on that head was only to express his surprize that Mr. T. Steele had not been prosecuted.

Mr. Long

said that was not his business.

Mr. Creevey

said, it appeared somewhat extraordinary that this gentleman, who was a privy counsellor, should, at the time he was Paymaster of the Forces, in the face of an act of parliament, have helped himself to 12 or 14,000l. of the public money, and, notwithstanding that after this report he had himself acknowledged he had done so by paying back the money, he should still remain a privy counsellor.

Mr. I. H. Browne

admitted many disagreeable circumstances had occurred in the Committee, but he believed from no ill intention in any one, nor from any desire to protract unnecessarily the time of the Committee. Many thought a reform as to the power and influence of the crown was necessary, and others that it was not; and he believed each party was actuated by what they really thought to be right. Many of the Committee thought the influence of the crown was the most valuable part of the constitution; of course those would not agree to diminish it: but though he did not exactly agree with either party on this head, and many others, he still thought every one had acted to the best of his judgment.

Lord Milton

expressed his apprehensions, that after the discussions that had taken place, the appointment of a Committee would not be attended with any good effects. After all the pains and trouble such Committees could take, he could not see that the public burthens would be in the least diminished. As for what had been said respecting the prerogative of the crown, he conceived that if there were persons who held an opinion that it was more necessary to increase than take away from it, they were unlit to be appointed on this Committee. He regretted that when the Committee was first proposed, it had been taken out of the hands of the hon. gent, who brought it forward (Mr. Biddulph), and the nomination of members made by a noble friend of his (lord H. Petty), then chancellor of the exchequer. This was a fatal precedent, the effects of which they now witnessed.

Mr. Biddulph

bore his testimony to the upright and honourable conduct of Mr. Bankes in the Chair, and defended the character of the. late Committee. But this was not the immediate matter before the house; they were to look prospectively and not retrospective If ever a Committee was necessary, he thought this was the precise period when it was most so, as public economy was now more requisite than ever to the well-being of the state. In order to reconcile the different opinions that had been stated, he proposed that the names of gentlemen as members of the Committee, should be called from both sides of the house alternately.

Mr. Brogden

condemned the course pursued by the chairman and those who supported him in the last Committee, on account of their introducing into their Reports matters foreign to the purpose for which they were instituted, such as the king's prerogative, the privileges of parliament, &c. He and those who were of his opinion in the Committee, opposed these innovations, and wished to confine the Report entirely to what they thought the only object of their labours, namely, the reform of every abuse in the expenditure of the public money.

Mr. Ellison

did not think that any set of men had ever entered on their duty with a more earnest desire to discharge it than the members of that committee. He contended, however, that in the course of their proceedings questions had been introduced, not, in his judgment, by them cognizable, and foreign to the objects of their consideration. He had no doubt of the zeal and industry of the chairman, but he did differ with him as to the purport of part of his voluminous Report, which, in his opinion, went too much to trench upon the royal prerogative, and differing from him he would act in conformity to his own judgment and not give himself up altogether to the ipse dixits of any individnal. 'Nullius add ictus jurare in verba magistri'. On that one ground, he dissented, tolo calo, from that hon. gent, as he was not of opinion that such great constitutional questions fell within their cognizance.

Mr. Bankes

said, that notwithstanding the prescribed limits of explanation, he could not sit in silence and hear that Report which he had submitted to the committee branded with the character of entrenching upon any one of the royal prerogatives. He denied it; and in the fullest and strongest manner one gentleman could contradict another, asserted that such an opinion of that Report was false and unfounded. (Order, order.)

Mr. H. Thornton

entirely agreed with Mr. Bankes in his opinion of that Report. He thought it would be wrong to put the same men again on the same Committee who had hitherto so disagreed.

Mr. Sharp

was willing to do justice to the labours of the last Committee, but observed, that there had been sins of omission as well as commission, and that if those were not filled up by the next Committee, he should call the attention of the house to do it at a future period.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer,

in reply to the arguments that had been adduced against his proposition, noticed a threat of an hon. gent, to put some one on the bench where he sat, on their defence. If it was to himself he alluded, he could assure him that he could not do him a greater favour than to make any charge against him the subject of early investigation. [Here Mr. Moore signified that he did not allude to the right hon. gent.] If then, continued he, the hon. gent, alludes to any of my friends near me, I will affirm in their names that they will be as desirous to meet early inquiry into their conduct as I could be.—There was also some blame attached to the not laying certain accounts before the house, and the hon. gent, had said he would not give a vote of supply till the appropriation of the last year's Supply should be accounted for. In answer to this he had to observe, that there was an act of parliament prescribing the time when those accounts were to be produced, and if any delay should take place, he would be the first to agree in a motion for its being satisfactorily accounted for, but if the hon. gent.'s principle was acted on, it would go the length of putting a stop to all the money business of the nation.— It had been said, that former Reports had been thwarted and suffered to remain a dead letter, but this assertion had been so completely refuted by his right hon. friend (Mr. Long), that he found it unnecessary to trouble the house any further upon it. His rt. hon. friend had, however, abstained from mentioning, that it was from his own evidence that the Committee had been enabled to make up their able Report on the subject of the Paymaster of the Forces Office, and to supply those suggestions of Reform which he afterwards carried into execution. As for the Reform suggested with regard to the Bank, he was sure the chairman of the Committee would hear him out in saying, that, although it had not proceeded so far as he wished, yet government had applied themselves faithly to the opinion of the Committee, and achieved a very considerable public service, by enforcing their suggestions—On the mode of constituting this Committee there were a variety of opinions. Some preferred the reappointment of the old Committee; others seemed to think, that it would be better that it should consist entirely of new names. The noble lord on I the other side (Milton) seemed to be of this latter mind. A principal object, however, was to expedite the inquiries of the Committee, and he could by no means see that he should be doing so by composing it of members entirely unacquainted with the progress already made in the business. As to the idea of constituting the I Committee as it formerly stood, if that could reconcile the hon. gent, who had been the chairman of the Committee, again to accept that office, he should willingly fall in with it; but he had understood from that hon. gent, that he would be equally dissatisfied with the Committee as it formerly stood, as he was with the reduction now proposed, He hoped, when that hon. gent, reconsidered the matter, and reflected on the importance which the house and the public attached to his being in the chair of that Committee, he would be disposed again to accept of the situation; in doing which, he would discharge his public duty more meritoriously than by declining the office. The noble lord opposite (lord H. Petty) had gone farther, however, than the hon. gent. That hon. gent, had not declared that he would not consent to be of the Committee; he had only intimated his disinclination to resume the chair of it. But the noble lord had gone further. If he could not get the chairman he wished, he had declared that he would act not at all. Another hon. gent, (Mr. Whitbread) had stated, that he could not accept of a Committee nominated by any chancellor of the exchequer. He begged of that hon. gent, to look back to the period of the original institution of this Committee, and he would find that it had been nominated by a chancellor of the exchequer, whom the hon. gent, supported. The idea of the Committee, he begged it to be recollected, did not originate with the noble lord (Petty). He took it out of the hands of the gentleman who originally suggested it, (Mr. Biddulph); whose name even had been left out of the Committee as originally proposed by the noble lord; and so far were the 21 names then nominated from being a fair selection, taken impartially from both sides of the house, that 19 out of the 21 were names of members who uniformly voted with the noble lord. He challenged a comparison of the list now proposed by him with that proposed by the noble lord, and trusted the house would see it was infinitely more impartially selected.

Mr. Ellison

hoped he might be allowed to notice the language of an hon. member towards him. He had spoken of that hon. gent, with the highest respect. He had given him credit for the ability and integrity which he was universally allowed to possess, but the hon. gent, had applied towards him an expression highly improper and unbecoming, and for which, if he had used it to any man, he should have found himself bound to apologize. This was a duty which he had a right to expect from the hon. gent, and he hoped he would discharge it, by qualifying the expression he had used.

Mr. Bankes

said he had no objection whatever to qualify the expression. The use of the term false, if meant to convey the idea of a person's asserting as true what he knew to be false, he was satisfied could not be allowed in civilized society. He did not, however, use the expression in that sense, nor did he mean to convey the slightest impeachment of the hon. gent, as a public or private man. He only meant that the hon. gent, had taken an unfair view of the subject, and that the opinion he had formed of the Report was erroneous and false. If that explanation was satisfactory to the hon. gent, he should be glad of it. He could say no more: he was still satisfied, that the hon. gent, and other members of the Committee had proceeded on mistaken and erroneous principles, and that their view of the Report was a false and erroneous one.

Mr. Ellison

declared himself satisfied.

The Speaker

said, that nothing had occurred in this debate which should be borne in memory after this night.

Mr. Ponsonby

said, that the difference between his noble friend's (lord H. Petty's) list, and that of the right hon. gent, was, that the noble lord's list had not been objected to as one of which the hon. gent. (Mr. Bankes) refused to act as Chairman: but the present list had the misfortune to be of that description. As to the noble lord having selected 19 out of the 21 names from the side of the house on which he himself sat, that was by no means an unnatural proceeding, he being no stranger to the fact, that the right hon. gent, and his friends were not remarkable for their attachment to reform.

Mr. Johnstone

expressed strong regret at the turn the discussion had taken. If the hon. gent, retired from his situation of chairman of the Committee, in the way he had stated, it would produce an impression throughout the country not favourable to that house. He objected to the proposition reducing the number from 25 to 15, which if it had not been made we should have been free from the evils of this debate.

Mr. Wilberforce

thought it would be very material that the house should have somewhat more time allowed them to consider of this matter. The appointment now proposed, was such as to induce the hon. chairman to refuse again accepting that office, which he had formerly filled with much advantage to the country and honour to his own character; and therefore he begged the house to pause before they adopted a line of conduct that would have that effect. He could not help regretting, that the parties did not seem more disposed to give way to each other, so as to come to some conclusion beneficial to the character of the house and the country. As it was perfectly necessary that something should be done, he should propose, that the house should come this night to a conclusion, only that a Committee be appointed, in order that a subsequent motion for an adjournment might be made upon it.

The motion, "that a Committee be appointed, &c." was then put and agreed to.

Mr. Wilberforce

then moved, That the debate be adjourned to Friday next.—A division took place, when there appeared, for the Adjournment, Ayes 62, Noes 124 Majority 62.—We were not again admitted to the gallery, but understand that the question was put on every alternate name in the list offered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer; against which another name was proposed by the other side.

The house divided seven times on these names, and those proposed by the Chancellor were all carried, the numbers on every division being about 131 to 47.

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