HC Deb 16 March 1809 vol 13 cc644-6

The order of the day having been read for the house to resolve itself into a committee on the Marine Mutiny Bill,

Mr. Robert Ward

rose to make some observations on what had fallen from an hon. bait, (sir C. Pole) on a former evening, respecting the increase of emolument to Pay-Captains of Marines, and some new naval regulations. The hon. bart. had slated that their labours and compensation were not at all proportionate. But the hon. bart., perhaps, did not know that the persons selected for such situations, were generally men who were unfit for other service. Their duties were by no means burthensome. It was not required that a Pay-Captain of Marines should serve afloat, or even aboard. The only case in which their attendance on board was required was, whenever courts martial took place. Under such circumstances he did not imagine the provision made for those officers was at all defective. With respect to the deductions from the pay of Marine Officers, they were applied, he said, to Chelsea Hospital, and the same benefits resulted to the officers of Marines, as to the Officers of the Army from such application. Whatever deduction was made from the pay of Marine Privates, was applied to Greenwich Hospital, and they were benefitted in the same manner by it as the Navy. Some stoppage in a Marine officer's pay was given generally to the Commissioners of the widows' pensions, for the Army: and of consequence, the widow of a Marine Officer derived the same advantage from that fund as the widow of an officer in the Army would. The lion, member said, that in his opinion the retired officers of Marines were, in every way, on the same footing with those in the Army.

Sir Charles Pole

said, if the hon. gent, had given this explanation as to the stoppages of pay before, it would have altered his own view of the subject. But he still held the same opinion with respect to the situation of the Pay Captains. He was well informed they had a regular ledger account to keep with every man and boy in the Marine service, for which they had no remuneration, although the Captains of Marine Artillery, for only paying their own companies, had 2s. per day additional pay. Besides those old officers, in any branch of the service, would have been entitled to majorities, and many of them now would have been old field officers. Any advantage, therefore, which could be given them, without great expence to the public, ought not to be witheld from a brave class of men, whose existence was scarcely known to their country except by their brilliant services in her cause.

Mr. Calcraft

suggested the propriety of appointing a distinct Compassionate List and Widows' Fund for the Marines. He expressed, also, a desire, that the clause which seemed to admit of the construction of which his hon. friend (sir C. Pole) complained, ought to be immediately amended.

Mr. Wellesley Pole

said it was the intention of the present Board of Admiralty to afford to the Marine Corps every practicable and reasonable indulgence. But there was a mistake with respect to the stoppages from the pay of Marine Officers in general for the Widow's Fund. No such stoppages were now made but from officers who retired on full pay; and the widows of the Marine Officers received their pensions at the War Office, paid by the public. With respect to the situation of the Pay Captains, he begged leave to refer the hon. bart. to a Petition presented by those very Officers to the Admiralty, when he himself was at that Board, praying for this very allowance, which the hon. bart. now sought to obtain for them, and the answer then given to their petition was, that the birth was a pretty good one, and it was very desirable it should continue to exist; but if they did not like it with full pay, and ex- emption from all other duty, they might take their turns of service: ever since, they had been pretty well satisfied to remain as they were. With respect to the Compassionate List, for which there was a Bill now in progress, it was only for such widows and orphans as were not entitled to any provision otherwise, nor was it ever thought of before the establishment of the present Admiralty Board; and it was his intention in the Committee on this Bill, to place the widows of Marine Officers on the same footing in this respect with those of the officers of the Navy and Army.

Mr. Hutchinson

considered it important to have the point, with respect to the contributions of the Royal Marines to Chelsea, fully sifted, as there was an unfavourable impression abroad on that subject.

Sir Charles Pole

denied any recollection of such an application as that alluded to by the hon. member (Mr. W. Pole); at all events, he was perfectly certain, that during the whole time he was at the Admiralty, he never did give an offensive answer to any application, made either by an individual, or by any description of persons. There was nothing he considered more disgraceful than such conduct on the part of any man in office.

The Bill then went through the Committee.