HC Deb 08 May 1809 vol 14 cc409-32
Mr. Henry Martin

rose, in pursuance of his notice, to call the attention of the house to the contents of the Third Report of the Committee on Public Offices. Though aware, that in bringing this subject under the consideration of parliament, he was bus barely doing a duty, yet, if the hon. gent. (Mr. Bankes) who had taken so large a part in framing the Report in the Committee, had shown any disposition to take up the question, or if his majesty's ministers had, since the commencement of the present session, manifested any intention to bring forward any measures with a view to act upon the suggestions of the Report, he should never have thought of interfering with the subject. He should, therefore, be exempt from the odium of bringing forward the subject unseasonably, because the Resolutions which he meant to propose would have a tendency to assist in carrying the Resolutions of that house, into effect, and to comply with the recommendations given by his majesty in various Speeches from the throne. The house, in passing the Resolutions to which he adverted, and in appointing the Committee which had made this Report, had given a pledge to the public to prosecute a reform in the public expenditure, so far as was consistent with the public service; for he could not suppose, that the only use, for which Committees were appointed, was to make reports to lie on their table, without leading to any practical reform of the abuses which might be detected. The appointment of the Committee, therefore, was a pledge on the part of the house, that every reform would be promoted which could be effected without detriment to the public expenditure. It would be for the house, then, to see what the Report contained, and to judge how the suggestions it recommended could be acted upon for the public service. The Report referred to pensions, sinecures, offices performed by deputy, and compensations for pensions, the annual amount of which exceeded one million and a half. This was the state of the fact, as appeared from the Report; and as several other offices had not been returned, and the sum inserted in the Report was exclusive of the duchy of Lancaster, which, in the language of Mr. Burke, though not affording a revenue of more than four or five thousand pounds, gave rise to a patronage of fifty thousand pounds, it would be obvious, that this aggregate was under the real amount. He was not prepared to state, that by any measures he could propose, any considerable portion of this sum could be reduced. But when they were hourly called upon to augment the public burthens, when they reflected upon the enormous increase of the public debt within the last six years, they would be convinced that the subject was deserving of the most serious attention, and that it was most desirable, if possible, to make every practicable retrenchment in this expenditure. Of the whole sum, about six hundred and ninety seven thousand seven hundred and forty seven pounds, appeared to him actually necessary; but as to the remainder, he conceived it to be the bounden duty of the house, to inquire what reduction could be made, what retrenchment effected in every part or branch of it. Whatever was necessary for the support of the royal family; whatever was requisite for the comfort and splendour of the different branches of that family; whatever had been secured by parliamentary grant for eminent public services; all this, so long as it was possible to raise it, he considered not only unexceptionable, but actually necessary for the well-being of the state. But when the house recollected, that the whole of the sum so expended was raised by public taxes, or indirect means of revenue, it would feel the propriety of examining into the amount of saving that could be procured on the aggregate amount of this branch of the public expenditure, without injury to the public service. He was ready to admit, and it would appear by the Resolutions with which he meant to conclude, that no great immediate saving, no very sensible alleviation of the public burthens was to be effected. But an essential benefit must result from the effect that would be produced on the public mind, by shewing that there existed a sincere disposition in that house, to make all the retrenchments that were compatible with the public service. He was not one of those who regulated their public conduct, or would resort to any particular measure, "arbitrio popularis auræ;" but when the wishes of the people were directed to a rational reform of existing abuses, he thought they ought to be attended to. What the wishes of the people were in such a case, when they tended to such a Reform, Mr. Burke had described to be a just and salutary warning to that house.—The right hon. gent. opposite would recollect what had taken place in 1782 on this subject. From that period to the present time, scarce a session had elapsed without the attention of the house having been drawn to the subject. They had had reports regularly from 1786 to 1791, referring to the various branches of the public expenditure; and they had since the Reports of the Committee appointed in 1796, in which the person (the Speaker) whom he had the honour to address, had presided with so much credit to himself, and exerted his talents with so much benefit for the public service; reports drawn up with so much ability, and containing throughout so much political knowledge and sound sense. The Reports of 1797 recommended an enquiry by that house, what retrenchments could be made in this particular branch of the public expenditure. But what had been the consequence? He was ready to admit, that a few offices of the customs had been abolished, yet how much had the remaining suggestions of this Report been neglected, when not a step had been taken to carry them into effect? The Report of 1796 referred to the offices and sinecures in the Courts of Justice, and as it appeared by that Report, the Committee recommended the abolition of offices of that description to the amount of 26,879l. per annum. It was curious, too, to remark that lord Hale, that most eminent judicial authority, had also long previously recommended the abolition of such offices. Yet, so far were the suggestions of the Report from having been attended to, that he observed by the return of places granted in reversion, that even since the Report had been presented to the house, one of the offices of the description recommended to be abolished, had been granted in reversion, after the demise of the person at present in possession of it. Parliament, however, had a good opportunity for carrying into effect the recommendations of the Report by the abolition of such offices, when they made a provision for retiring Judges and Chancellors. The provision so made might well have been made the purchase of the patronage of the Judges in the appointment to those offices which were recommended to be abolished. Whoever recollected that the situations of the Judges had been formerly held during pleasure: whoever called to mind that the salaries of the Judges had been, from time to time, increased (though it was not his intention to disapprove of such increase, or to state, that the increase was even sufficient, yet) whoever looked to either of these events, must be sensible that the abolition of these offices might on either occasion have been provided for. The sale of offices in the courts of justice was really a disgrace to the institutions of the country; and, though no abuse had arisen from it, as far as the administration of justice was concerned, yet it was a practice which had better be discontinued. And, therefore, he most earnestly hoped, that the labours of the Finance Committee would prove more effectual than those of any former Committee. He was not vain enough to suppose, that the remedies he had to propose would be effectual to his object; but he trusted that it would be admitted on all hands that some remedies were necessary. One thing was clear, that wherever an abuse was pointed out, a remedy ought, if possible, to be applied. He should, therefore, hardly have thought that there could be any objection to the Resolutions which he was about to submit to the house; so obviously proper upon the bare statement of them, and, though not exactly borne out by the very words of the Report, yet in every respect conformable to its object and spirit, had he not heard that it had been said out of doors (he begged pardon for the irregularity of the allusion) that these sinecure places and pensions were so intimately connected with the prerogatives and rights of the crown, as to form the palladium of the British constitution. When gentlemen considered the enormous increase of the public taxes since the year 1786; when they considered that the army and the navy had been augmented nearly tenfold; when they looked to the existing state of the continent, and contemplated what was likely to be the state of Europe hereafter, when even in the event of peace, we could not return to a small peace establishment; when they contemplated all these circumstances, it was impossible for them to be of opinion, that the influence of the crown would be materially diminished by the abolition of sinecures. It appeared by the Report, that the whole of the expenditure of the year in 1791, including the militia establishment, (but he admitted upon a peace establishment,) amounted to fifteen millions nine hundred and sixty nine thousand pounds. The expenditure of the last year was 77,800,000l. The influence of the crown, in consequence of such an increase of expenditure, could not therefore, be much affected by the abolition of sinecures. There would still remain to the crown the legitimate patronage in the appointment to all situations, naval, military, civil, and judicial. It would still have the appointments connected with the collection of the revenue, and many others which were unknown in former times. Surely, then, it could not be seriously contended that the appointment to these sinecures was at all essential to the stability or the dignity of the regal power. The appointment to sinecures had been represented by Mr. Burke, as "the perennial spring of all prodigality and disorder, which loaded us more than millions of our debt." It was to this part of the Report, that the house was particularly called upon to attend.—Having already stated the amount of the expenditure in sinecures, pensions, &c. he proposed next to consider it under two heads, the one unobjectionable, the other questionable, though it was not his wish to be understood to consider what he represented questionable as altogether objectionable. According to his view, whatever pensions were settled on the different branches of the royal family; whatever pensions were charged upon the consolidated fund, and secured by act of parliament; whatever pensions were charged upon the civil list, and regulated by Mr. Burke's act, should be left altogether out of consideration, as unobjectionable. Of the same description he considered the pensions to officers' widows; the provision for superannuated artificers; and for men retiring from office after long and faithful service; and he should leave them also out of view. The whole amount, under these various heads, was 697,740l. in England. As to the sinecures and allowances by way of pensions, and pensions not regulated by Mr. Burke's bill, he considered them as primâ facie questionable, and proposed to take a view of them as they existed; first in England, then in Scotland, and afterwards in Ireland. The first of this class of pensions, which he regarded as questionable, came under the head of pensions to foreign ministers. In the year 1787 the amount of these pensions was 9,185l. but it was now, as appeared by the Report, as high as 51,689l. besides some contingent pensions and others not included in the Report; but whether any others had been granted since the Report was presented, he could not take upon him to state. A great increase had, therefore, taken place under this head. By Mr. Burke's bill it was proposed to reduce the aggregate amount of the pension-list to 60,000l. but that limit was afterwards extended to 95,000l. so that the pensions to foreign ministers had encreased to more than one half of the whole amount of the pension list, according to the provisions of Mr. Burke's bill. This was a subject which called for the serious attention of the house; and upon this branch of the public expenditure it was his opinion, that a most important retrenchment might in time be effected.—Another class of pensions to which he felt it his duty to call the attention of the house was, that of the pensions arising out of and charged upon the four and a half per cent. duties; with respect to the pensions arising out of those duties, it was not his intention in that instance to submit any specific resolution to the house; but at the same time, if his calling the attention of his majesty's ministers to that part of the subject, should be productive of no measure on their part for applying a remedy in that case, he should then feel it his duty to submit to the house at some future period, the propriety of sending op to the throne, an humble and dutiful Address upon this subject, considering that to be the most respectful mode of proceeding, in all cases where the application related to any interference with the royal prerogative. He would here recal to the house's recollection, the rise of those duties: It would be recollected that, in the first instance, these duties upon the four and a half per cents. had been granted by an Act of the Assembly of the Island of Barbadoes in the year 1663, but at that time those duties were appropriated to colonial purposes, the payment of their civil list establishment: and the internal benefit of the island itself. After the Revolution the application of those duties was extended, and appropriated by parliament in the reign of queen Anne to the civil list ser- vice of this country. On referring to the 14th volume of the Journals, it would be found that a Petition had been presented to that house from the colonists in Barbadoes, stating the original ground of granting those duties, praying their due appropriation, and for relief, against the pressure occasioned by their recent appropriation. In consequence of that petition, it would appear from that volume of the Journals, that that house sent up an humble Address to her majesty, praying that those duties might be placed as nearly as might be, upon their original grounds, and that they should be omitted in the civil list; and to this address her majesty had graciously replied, "That these duties having been granted specially for particular purposes, should make no part of her civil list." But to prove that the house had a right to interfere on the subject, he referred to the Army Extraordinaries, where they would find provision uniformly made for those services to which these duties had been formerly appropriated. The public had a right, therefore, to these duties as purchasers, having defrayed the expenditure to which they were applied. When the four and a half per cents. had been originally granted, the salaries of the governors and other officers in the government of the island of Barbadoes, were then paid out of those duties, as appeared from the Accounts laid upon the table between the years 1701 and 1740, and not the salaries only but the expences resulting from keeping the respective fortifications, &c. in repair: whereas at present all those estimates were included in the Army Extraordinaries for each year. There was also another ground upon which the application of that house to his majesty upon this subject could not be considered an interference with his royal prerogative. Originally the grant of a pension in 765 to the late duke of Gloucester, was paid out of the four and a half per cent. duties, but parliament afterwards transferred this grant, amounting to 9000l. a year, to the consolidated fund, and it was paid during the remainder of his life, for a number of years, not out of those duties, but out of the consolidated fund, which saving to the four and a half per cent. duties gave parliament a proportionable claim upon those duties, by diminishing in that proportion the charges upon them.—The next class of Pensions which he considered as questionable, and to which he proposed to call the attention of the house, was those issued out oft he Treasury Fee Fund, out of the establishments of the different offices, and those created by way of addition to the establishments. These he considered not only questionable but suspicious, not alone from their nature and amount, but from the manner in which they originated; and consequently proper objects of constitutional jealousy, and parliamentary superintendance.—Another head of Pensions which he looked upon as questionable was, that of those granted in the shape of pensions or allowances out of the ordinaries of the navy to retired civil officers and wives of living naval officers. No man could contend that a provision should not be made for officers under such circumstances, but it was the manner in which the thing was done that called for attention. That house had never proved backward to remunerate meritorious officers; they had never refused any application for that purpose. But it was the manner in which that object was now attained that he complained of, as directly leading to abuses; because it enabled the heads of departments to superannuate whom they pleased; not by an order of his majesty in council, not by warrant under the sign manual, but by virtue of a power exercised by the heads of departments, to grant pensions to whoever they thought proper. To correct this practice, therefore, could not be to interfere with the king's prerogative.—There was also a class of pensions granted under the sign manual, which, because greater in amount, was a greater grievance. This class was supported out of the funds produced by the sale of Old Stores. It was impossible that when naval stores had been granted by parliament for the public service, they should ever cease to be the property of the public, or become a source of revenue to his majesty. Upon this head therefore, it was his intention to propose a specific Resolution, in order to prevent in future such a misappropriation of a public fund. It would be quite another question, how the persons now provided for from that fund should be otherwise provided for; but the practice was unconstitutional, and should be put an end to.—There was one head, denominated allowances in the nature of Pensions, which so much resembled pensions, that he could not distinguish them; and if this denomination had been adopted with a view to get rid of the limitation of the pension list imposed by Mr. Burke's bill, he was sure the house would feel the necessity of putting a stop, or at least of establishing some limit, to the practice. The amount of these pensions, out of the royal bounty, out of the Fee Funds, out of the Ordnance allowance, and out of the Lord Chamberlain's Office, exceeded 56,700l. whilst the allowances in the nature of pension?, of the same description charged upon the civil list, amounted to 42,000l., making together nearly 99,000l; being more than it was possible to have granted under the provisions of Mr. Burke's bill.—It was barely necessary for him to state the nature and extent of this branch of public expenditure, to convince the house of the propriety of an inquiry how far retrenchment might be practicable.—He came next to a most important head, that of Sinecures and Offices executed by Deputy, which in England alone amounted to 242,355l. per annum. In the colonies particularly those taken from the enemy, there were several which had not been returned, and consequently it was evident that the sum stated in the Report must be less than the actual expenditure under this head. This sum included all the offices under the head of sinecures of offices executed by deputy, and those of the courts of law.—But here he must observe, that it was not his intention to submit any Resolution upon the subject, that could immediately affect the interests of those who held these offices. He could not, however, avoid calling the attention of the house to a passage of a Report which had been made by a Committee upon offices of this description, towards the close of lord North's administration. The passage stated, that where bona fide duties were attached to an office, it became a freehold to the possessor if he held it for life, but if he derived a stipend only from the office, without any duty to perform, it could not be considered as a freehold. The Report, too, added, that it was the maxim of our ancestors that when an office became a sinecure, it was in fact, vacated. The Report then went on to state, that in such times (a time when the whole of the expenditure of the country did not exceed fifteen millions) it was the duty of parliament to make every possible retrenchment in the public expenditure. Whatever reasons could apply to such times, must apply with double force to the present times.—Thus he had gone through the principal heads to which it was his wish to call the attention of the house upon the subject of Sinecures, Pen- sions, and Offices executed by Deputy, so far as related to England, and had only to add, that the aggregate of ibis expenditure, which he classed under the head "objectionable or questionable," amounted to four hundred and twenty four thousand and seventy-three pounds, thirteen shillings, and eleven pence, annually.—With respect to Scotland and Ireland, the amount under the various heads to which he had adverted was of less value, but unquestionably not less deserving the consideration of parliament. The amount of pensions in Scotland was at present 39,704l., but with a view to enable the house to judge of the extent to which it had been carried, he had to state, that at the accession of his present majesty it was of little value, the payment of pensions in that country, not originally exceeding 5,940l. He did not find, however, that the increase had been applied to the personal benefit of the sovereign; but still thought the very great increase under this head worthy the attention of that house. The amount of sinecure offices and of offices executed by deputy, was not less than 29,300l. Of these he was aware, that some were preserved by the Act of Union, but these were few in number; and every thing he had said with respect to places of that description in England, was applicable to those in Scotland. He did not mean, however, to move any Resolution upon this head, any more than with respect to the pensions out of the four and a half per cents. His wish would be to propose at a future period, an humble Address to his majesty, that he would be graciously pleased not to grant pensions to a larger amount than 600l. in any one year in Scotland, until the whole should be reduced to 10,000l., at which it should remain, being double what it was originally; whilst the remainder he should propose to be carried to the Civil List. The total of exceptionable or objectionable charge for Scotland, therefore, including 8,575l. for Miscellaneous Services of a doubtful description, amounted to seventy-seven thousand six hundred and nine thousand pounds a year.—As to Ireland, that country was far more fruitful in the amount of pensions and allowances secured by act of parliament. By the Papers on the table, it appeared, that the present amount, under the head of Pensions, exceeded the amount limited by the act by 10,000l.; but as it appeared, that by a clause, in the act his majesty was autho- rised to grant to the amount of 1200l. in each year in pensions, he feared there could be no remedy for that excess, until an act should be passed to amend the former act. The sum granted as compensation for those who lost offices by the Union was ninety-seven thousand six hundred and sixty-three pounds, thirteen shillings, and four pence. This was well worth the attention of the house, because many of those thus compensated must have held offices during pleasure, and could not have the same claim to compensation with those who held offices for life.—The sinecures and the allowances in the nature of Pensions to those superannuated, had been much increased in Ireland on account of a false interpretation having been put upon the act of parliament; and to such an extent was this carried, that persons who had served for twenty-five years, thought themselves privileged to retire, though then perhaps in the prime of life, in their 45th or 46th years, when they had become fully acquainted with the nature of their office, and were at that very time better able to discharge the duties of it, than they had been at any former period, thus superannuating themselves after they had, as it were, served a sort of an apprenticeship to the duties of the office.—Another circumstance of which he had to complain, with respect to the indiscriminate allowance of compensations was, that they were given not only to those who retired from places and offices held by patent, but to those also who retired from places they had held merely during pleasure; this was not in unison with the true and original principle of such grants, for they were intended to prevent injustice; but what injustice, he would ask, was suffered by the man who holding a place at pleasure was removed at pleasure? He thought it wrong, therefore, so to misapply the public money, by giving it to those who had no claims whatever upon public justice. Hence he thought that the best possible remedy against all such misapplications, would be the publicity of the grants themselves; if they were all publicly given. If no compensation could be given without every circumstance of the grant, nature, and object of it being laid upon the table of that house, they would not have to complain of so many improper grants, and indeed in general, the best remedy against the evil they so often heard complained of in that house under the term Jobs, would be publicity in every thing relating to the disposal of the public money.—The whole amount of objectionable or questionable charge for Ireland (including pensions 120,846l. 12s. 4d. compensations for Union 97,663l. 13s. 4d. sinecures and reversons 102,104l.) amounted to three hundred and twenty thousand six hundred and fourteen pounds six shillings per annum. He had now mentioned the evils, and he should next state the means by which he proposed to come at the remedies. He had in his hand a series of resolutions, which he would submit to the Committee, in case the house agreed in appointing it:—Here the hon. gent. read those Resolutions, which stated in substance, the urgent necessity at such a period of the strictest economy in the disposal of the public money. That it was not so much the object to abolish certain offices as that the amount of those charges should not exceed the just estimate of the services rendered thereby to the public. That it was desirable that the emoluments of offices appertaining to courts of law should not be permitted to fluctuate or to go beyond their estimate at their first institution. That Mr. Burke's bill had wisely stipulated against the unnecessary creation of places and offices, and that it would be expedient to follow up that stipulation by providing for the annual publicity of all grants of such Places. The learned and hon. gent. then concluded with moving, That his Resolutions do lie upon the table, and that a Committee of the whole house be appointed to take into further consideration the third Report of the Committee of Finance on this day se'nnight.*

* The following is an Abstract of the Pensions, &c. from the Papers on the table, as referred to in Mr. Martin's Statement:

Royal Family, and paid by Act of Parliament out of the Consolidated Fund £. 133,000 0 0
House of Orange, and paid by Act of Parliament out of the Consolidated Fund 16,000 0 0
Royal Family, out of Civil List, by Letters of Privy Seal and Sign Manuel 162,000 0 0
Royal Family, out of Consolidated Fund, by Act of Parliament 72,000 0 0
£. 383,000 0 0
Floating Pensions for the Princesses, to commence on the demise of his Majesty, 30,000l.
Other Pensions, paid out of

Mr. H. Thornton

rose to second the motion. He concurred most cordially in all the Resolutions proposed by the hon.

the Consolidated Fund, by Act of Parliament (only 4,000l. of which contingent) 75,990 14 10
Other Pensions, on Civil List, under the Regulations of Act 22 G. 3 89,067 13 4
£. 165,058 8 2
Floating Pensions which will become a Charge on the Civil List, 8,471l. ARMY, &c.
To Officers' Widows NAVY. 34,926 6 2
To Superannuated Officers, including those who have received Wounds in the Service, and the Widows and Children of other Officers, payable on the Ordinary Estimate of the Navy 62,084 0 0
To Master Attendants, &c. Artificers, and persons employed in the Yards ORDNANCE. 6,306 0 0
To Officers' Widows, &c. 45,572 17 11
£. 149,689 4 1
Total Unobjectionable Pensions, 697,747l. 12s. 3d.

gent.; and, indeed, he was disposed to go beyond the hon. gent, and even the Committee on one point, namely, that relating

Floating Pensions in the Ordinary of the Navy, 1182l. 10s. of which is now in a course of payment 182 10 0
Out of Old Stores (not including Widows and Children of Officers, or Pensions for Wounds) 6,828 10 0
Floating Pensions out of Old Stores, 3,851l. 10s.
Note—The Payments out of Old Stores, by Sign Manual, amount, exclusive of Bills assigned on the Treasurer of the Navy (which are 43,432l 18s. 4d.) to 29,083l. 4s. 11d. of which 7,059l. 10s. 6d. was in payment of Pensions.
Payments in aid of Salary to First Lord of the Admiralty 2,000 0 0
Pensions or Allowances at the Tax-Office 1,900 0 0
Compensations, Pensions, and Allowances in the Offices of Master of the Horse and Lord Steward 7,454 19 1
Pensions out of Transport Office 1,100 0 0
Pensions out of Excise and Salt Duties 1,696 6 0
Allowances to suppressed Commissaries 1,966 14 3
Lottery Office Pensions 100 0 0
Pay Office ditto 1,100 0 0
Post Office 591 0 0
Stamp Office 3,080 0 0
Annual Payments from Civil List to Rangers, &c. 10,168 3 3
Allowances out of Ordnance, deducting for Officers' Widows, &c. 15,232 13 0
Pensions added since the Account of those made up to 5th Jan. 1807 3,766 0 0
Allowances under the name of Compensations in the Departments of Lord Chamberlain and Master of the Robes 2,685 10 0
In the Customs 807 0 0
In the Pell Office, for Places abolished 280 0 0
Deputy Surveyor of Woods and Forests, in lieu of an Office in Chatham Barracks 500 0 0
Small Pensions to different Churches and Parishes formerly paid by Paymaster of Pensions, transferred to Exchequer by Act of Parliament 1,753 5 4
To Foreign Ministers 51,689 0 0
(22 G. 3, § 18. Act not to ex-

to Sinecures; for it would be in the recollection of the house, how the original Report had been altered upon that head. The learned gentleman had adopted the language of the Report, but it was his opinion, that the house ought rather to revise the system, than to content itself with acting upon a principle which had already been recognized. It would be proper to revise the whole question respecting Sinecures, in order to ascertain which it might perhaps be desirable to retain. With a reservation respecting this point, he heartily coincided in all the other Resolutions of the learned gent. The learned gent. had however fallen into some inaccuracies which he rose to set right. The Committee was now employed in correcting some inaccuracies into which it had fallen,

tend to those Pensions, provided the persons receiving them do not enjoy some place of Profit from the Crown to the amount of the Pension usually allowed in those cases)
Contingents ditto, 3,900l.
Paymasters' Poundage out of Army Pensions 1,746 6 3
(Qu. Whether this Office be not executed by Deputy? and if so, might not a small Salary be allowed in lieu of Poundage?)
£. 150,437 16 7
Twenty-two out of 36 Sinecure Offices or executed by Deputy (of the Emoluments of the remaining 14 no return has been made) 18,791 0 0
Alienation Office and Hanaper, also Sinecures 3,407 11 6
Apothecary General (sinecure) average of 3 years 12,158 5 4
Thirty-six other Offices executed by Deputy in the Exchequer, Customs, Excise, Navy, Pay Office, and Privy Seal 30,814 0 0
Thirty-six other Offices executed by Deputy in Courts of Justice 97,367 0 0
Note—Marshal of the Admiralty and other Offices omitted, and no Returns from the Courts of Vice-Admiralty abroad, 12 in number.
Offices of the same nature held for joint lives (Naval Offices of Jamaica not included) but may be subject to some small Deductions 29,818 0 0
£. 242,355 16 10

by having inserted in the appendix to its Report the gross instead of the net salaries. From the documents he possessed, he computed the gross amount estimated in his first broad and general statement, by the learned gent. at one million and a half, to be 1,400,000l. one hundred thousand pounds less than the hon. gent. had made it. But out of this sum of one million four hundred thousand pounds, there were likewise to be deducted various sums, which the hon. and learned gent. had not included in his statement of questionable expenditure, viz. a sum of 34,000l. to Officers' Widows, one of 45,000l. to the Ordnance Service, and a third of 57,000l. towards the Navy Estimates; there was also to be deducted a sum of 8,000l. to the First Lord of the Admiralty, and his office, and 13 or 14,000l.

No Return of the Offices in the West India Islands taken from the enemy.
Four and a half per Cent. Duty 10,331 0 0
Paid by the Husband of the Duty 20,949 0 6
£. 31,280 0 6
Contingent and floating ditto, 5,730l.
Pensions Miscellaneous 150,437 16 7
Sinecure Offices held by Deputy, or for Joint Lives 242,355 16 10
Total Objectionable or Questionable for England £. 424,073 13 11
Pensions paid out of the Civil Establishment 39,704 16 6
Payments for Miscellaneous Services which may be doubtful 8,575 0 0
Sinecure Offices 1,230 0 0
Sinecure Offices executed by Deputy 28,090 0 0
£. 77,609 16 6
Pensions 120,846 12 8
Compensation for Union, &c. 97,663 13 4
Sinecure Offices held for two or more Lives, or granted in Reversion 102,104 0 0
Total Ireland £. 320,614 6 0
England 424,073 13 11
Scotland 77,609 16 6
Total Objectionable or Questionable £. 822,297 16 5
Unobjectionable 697,747 12 3
Grand Total £. 1,520,045 8 8

for defraying the expences of government dispatches, besides other charges which made the aggregate of deductions amount to 2O 200,000l. So that altogether a sum of 300,000l. ought to be deducted from the first broad statement of the hon. and learned gent. From the remaining 1,200,000l. there should likewise be deducted those charges which having been granted by way of compensation for loss of office or for terminable periods, would cease with the lives of the grantees, or the expiration of the terms for which they may have been granted. Upon the best consideration he could give the subject, and the most accurate estimate he could form, it did not appear to him, that the whole of the floating charge of Pensions, &c. properly so called, could be said to exceed half a million a year. Even this, however, was a large sum, and he not only thought that the crown ought to be under restrictions in the disposal of it, but that the specific reasons for the various grants should be regularly laid before the house. The hon. gent. in his statement of Sinecures had also been a little obscure, and had overstated the amount. The toted amount was not more than 232,000l. including those of the law courts, &c. He wished merely to correct this inaccuracy, while at the same time he expressed his belief that in the sum, whatever it was, a diminution might be made. He agreed in the propriety of giving parliament full information on these subjects annually. The public could no longer be kept in ignorance; and from the diffusion of political knowledge, it was now necessary to have every thing clearly stated, that they might not appear to act from bad grounds and want of information. A regular system of superannuation ought to be adopted, as had been very properly recommended by his hon. friend; and he thought farther, that in such times as the present, it was highly necessary, on account of the increase of political knowledge among the people, and the spirit of enquiry that prevailed, that the most distinct and correct statement of the application of the public money should be afforded the house, as well as communicated out of doors: because since the people would have such information, it was desirable that it should be correct. He expected soon to see before the house the Report of the Committee of Public Expenditure, which he trusted would throw some light on this subject, and afford them farther information.

Mr. H. Martin

, in explanation, said, that he meant not to affect the sums appropriated to Officers' Widows, or any such charge. He had distinctly stated, in setting out, that he wished those to be laid aside in the consideration to which he was about to call the attention of the house.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

returned his thanks to the hon. gent. (Mr. Martin) for his very fair and candid manner of making his statement, and also for allowing the house sufficient time to take the subject fully into their consideration. He was free to confess, that at the time of the meeting of parliament, he had not formed a clear idea, or at all made up his mind respecting many points touched upon by the hon. gent. in his statement. The house would, therefore, not be surprized, that since the meeting of parliament his time was so much occupied with the other important duties of his office that he had not been able to gain new lights on the subject. He should now state, that he had the pleasure of agreeing with the hon. member in many of his points. He agreed also perfectly with what had been said by another hon. member (Mr. Thornton), that the greatest publicity should be given to every question connected with the expenditure of the country, and that the whole of the public accounts ought to be produced in such a form as to be intelligible to every ordinary comprehension. This was the plan which Mr. Pitt always pursued. He contrived to disentangle financial operations from any difficulty, or obscurity, and placed them in that clear and perspicuous light that every common understanding was capable of comprehending them. The observations which the hon. member had made respecting the Superannuation Fund appeared to him perfectly proper, and he entirely coincided with him in the opinion that every branch of the public expenditure ought to be submitted as expeditiously as possible to the consideration and judgment of that house. He agreed with him perfectly about the propriety of keeping the two heads of Navy Pensions and Superannuated Fund distinct. He also agreed with him that the most effectual mode ought to be adopted for carrying the proceeds of old stores to the credit of the public. He coincided with the hon. member in most of the provisions he had suggested, though he was of opinion that there would be much inconvenience, if not an utter impossibility, for parliament to make individual grants to all those various descriptions of persons necessary to be taken into consideration. The sums might be voted under certain heads, and the individual provided for by the minister on his responsibility to parliament. As for general charges respecting want of economy in the public expenditure, he would say, that he was sure that not only his majesty's present ministers, but any other set of gentlemen who might in future be ministers, would be much better economists of the public purse under the check and super-intendance of parliament, than parliament itself would be. As to the office to which he had a reversion, he would most disinterestedly state, that he thought it among the number of those offices which might admit of regulation, according to that principle of parliament which allowed the regulation of the fees and emoluments of an office, when those emoluments far exceeded what was originally intended. He admitted that many offices in the Courts of Justice required regulation, and he was indeed disposed to go a considerable way in support of the ideas of the hon. gentleman. The only thing that he wished to throw out to his consideration was, whether it would be necessary to bring forward this plan in the course of the session, or whether it would not be as well to leave it for the consideration of ministers during the recess, and wait to see how much of it could be carried into effect by ministerial regulations without the necessity of parliamentary enactments.

Lord H. Petty

coincided in every respect with the Resolutions proposed by his hon. friend, and gave his fullest concurrence to all the sentiments he had expressed in their support. He confessed, that looking to the situation and circumstances in which the Report was drawn up, it would have been more desirable that the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had assumed the task, but not having felt that to be his duty, he was glad to find that he was not for that reason averse to the spirit of the regulations suggested, and was sure that he had done no more than justice to his hon. and learned friend, when he ascribed to him that fairness and candour with which he had introduced the measure. It was not from any expectation of great saving that he advocated this measure, or with any view of being able thereby to lessen the burdens of the taxes. As the whole sphere of the pensions, sinecures, and allowances did not amount to more than a fifty-second part of the annual expenditure of this country, and after deducting the allowances to the royal family, would not exceed one 80th part of the expenditure, the house could not be entitled to expect that any great saving could result from the curtailment of this branch of the public expenditure. It was not therefore, on this expectation, but on the principle that, however small the advantage to be derived from the investigation of abuses, the constant attention of the house should be directed to the suppression of such evils, that he agreed to the motion of his hon. and learned friend. After deducting the annuities to the royal family, the amount of pensions, sinecures, &c. amounted to 950,000l. This sum was received not for services performing, but performed. If sinecures were not the proper mode of rewarding all services performed, still it was not said that they should be excluded altogether. So, the question should be, to what extent this was the fittest mode, and whether the amount of sums so payable did or did not exceed the value of the service performed. The object of his hon. friend was not that these offices should be done away, but that the amount of them should not be greater than the value of the service rendered to the public. His next object was, that the emoluments of Offices in Courts of Law should not be allowed to fluctuate, and to exceed what was to have been expected when they were originally instituted. Thirdly, to prevent the possible creation of places, as stipulated for by Mr. Burke's bill, by providing for the annual publicity of all circumstances connected with the grants of such places. No where could this privilege be so safely lodged as in the crown; but being so confided, it was proper that an account of the nature and manner of the appointments should be laid before the house, and so become accessible to parliament and to the public at all times. These were the only regulations which could be adopted to keep down this expenditure, and while the house was not guilty of any dereliction of duty, no public body could be better qualified for such a task.—Having said so much, he should, reserve, till another opportunity, the entering into minor details. The right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, while he agreed in many things with the hon. and learned mover, had suggested that it would not be necessary for his hon. friend to press the Resolutions he had read, during the present session. He, however, was of opinion, that if the house approved of the Resolutions, it would be better that they should be put into the form of bills, and if so, that they should, if possible, pass during the present session. He was satisfied the house could not discharge its duty better than by proceeding to carry the principle of these Resolutions into execution. The Resolutions of his hon. friend had his full concurrence; and it gave him satisfaction to see the manner in which they had been met by the house. The motion of his hon. and learned friend only went to follow up the regulations which had been acted on since the year 1782, by which all the public offices had been regulated, and a diminution of one half of the objectionable expences had been accomplished. He stated this to shew that the present was no new theory. Out of an expenditure of 80 millions annually, it was to be expected that excesses and abuses would spring. But any sum, however, if given away without any justifiable ground, was an evil that called for remedy; and every increase of influence on the part of the crown, obtained by such means, at however small an expence, could not be too much guarded against by parliament. The public had a right also, he contended, to be made acquainted with the application of the public money, and to be convinced that every effort was made on the part of that house to prevent unnecessary expence. This species of expence, too, had a constant tendency to increase, which made it more the duty of that house to check, and keep it within due bounds. He did not believe it to be the intention of his hon. friend to hurry the measure, but should the house adopt the Resolutions, it would be for them to consider whether they would pass the bills during the present session, or delay acting on them till next session. For his own part, however, he saw no good to be derived from delay, and thought the house could not do better than carry the regulations proposed into effect, with as little loss of time as possible.

Mr. Rose

was satisfied there could be but one sentiment in the house on such a subject. Whether the Resolutions proposed by the hon. and learned gentleman were carried through the house, in the form of Bills, however, during the present session, could not, he conceived be of great importance. The entering them on the Journals as Resolutions of the house would have the same effect, as it was not to be supposed that any minister would take upon him to act in opposition to such a declaration of the opinion of the house. Before he should set down he begged to correct a mis-statement with regard to the four and a half per cent. duty. On an average for ten years it had been found to produce 20,000l. per annum, and was charged with 28,000l. per ann. to the Duke of Gloucester. In order to relieve this fund from so great an overcharge, his royal highness's allowance had been removed to the Consolidated fund; but the 4½ per cent. duty was not in consequence applied to the uses of the crown. He noticed the difference between the gross and nett statements of salary, &c. A relation of his held an office estimated at 2,400l. per annum while in fact it netted no more than 400l. the 2,000l. being paid for stamps, &c. He concluded by thanking the hon. and learned gent, for the motion he had submitted to the house.

Mr. Creevey

said, he did not rise to object to the Resolutions of his hon. and learned friend, but to claim to himself the right of going beyond them on a future occasion by other resolutions of his own. His hon. and learned friend had been much too tender upon the subject of the 4½ per cent. toward Inland duties, considering them as private property of the crown, and disposable at its pleasure. For his part, he was convinced this fund was public property, and ought not to have been used as it had been. It was excepted by name out of the royal revenue by the first act of queen Anne, and again by the acts on the accession of George the first and second; and on the accession of his present majesty it was not specified amongst the small hereditary revenues then given up, for a very good reason, because it had long been alienated from the crown. Through the whole of the last century to the few remaining years of it, this fund had been considered as public property. Lord Grenville, as chairman of a committee of that house, returned it amongst the public revenue of the country in 1786. Lord Harrowby (then Mr. Ryder), did the same in 1791. It was in 1797 that the Finance Committee, for the first time, raised a doubt, about it; and from that time Mr. Pitt's government, which till then had treated this fund as public property, immediately cut and carved it up in pensions to an enormous amount, amongst Mr. Pitt's private and political connections, men, women and children. Never fund was so abused, and in no case more strikingly than in that of Mr. Long; the Civil List act of Mr. Burke had enacted, that no person other than a prince of the blood, or upon a recommendation of either house of parliament, should have a pension exceeding 1,200l. per annum, and yet Mr. Long, a subordinate officer of the government, had been helped to a pension of 1,500l. per annum, at the same time that he held an office of 2,000l. per annum, and had a house likewise furnished him by the state; all these things respecting the four and a half per cent. duties, and the particular pensions upon them, Mr. Creevey said he should bring forward before the session closed. On the subject of patent places, he could not see why those two which had belonged to lords Bute and Sondes should have been abolished, and those which were held by the marquis of Buckingham, lords Grenville and Arden, were suffered to continue.

Mr. Biddulph

was sorry that any thing should have occurred to induce gentlemen on the other side of the house to suppose that there was no necessity for carrying these Resolutions into effect during the present session. If one million could be saved on the whole expenditure of the country he should esteem it nothing; but if 100,000l. could be saved in any one department of the expenditure, that he should think a great deal. If services were to be rewarded, he thought sinecures the very worst mode of rewarding them. He wished, therefore that sinecures should be done away, and that public services should be rewarded in a manner not liable to be misunderstood. He hoped the house would not degenerate into listlessness and inattention on such a subject, but would carry their ideas into effect during the present session of parliament.

Mr. Peter Moore

said he had never till lately understood that sums voted by parliament were for any other than public services. All others he conceived misapplications of the public money. The 95,000l. under Mr. Burke's act he esteemed sacred, but all beyond that sum he conceived to be illegal; and, in the committee, he should move that all such excess should be expunged and disallowed, as an imposition on the public. A noble lord had said it would be no relief to the people. This he denied; it would be Mexico and Peru to them. He thought that it would be much better that every separate care of public service should come distinctly before the consideration of the house, as he was convinced that money grants would then be rejected with the utmost indignation that are now conferred without any notice being taken of them. As to the fondness that now prevailed for pensions and sinecures, he could not avoid relating an anecdote:—A French nobleman had once expressed a fear to him that the Red Book of England would be as ominous as the livre rouge of France. Such was the strange ambition which formerly prevailed in France, that many noblemen would consider themselves more highly honoured in having a pension of a few thousand livres from the gift of the king, than in as many thousand louis d'ors from their own estates. He feared that in England, too, it was now considered honourable to have pensions and sinecures from the public money..

The question was then put, and carried unanimously, that the Report of the Committee should be taken into consideration this day se'nnight.