HC Deb 29 March 1811 vol 19 cc661-2
Mr. Leach

moved the second reading of this Bill.

Mr. Bankes

opposed the Bill on the ground of its breaking in upon the line of financial reform already laid clown.

Sir J. Newport

was hostile to the second reading of the Bill upon the same ground.

Mr. Brand

opposed the second reading. He was averse to any step that could have the least tendency to raise a suspicion on the part of the people of the sincerity of the efforts making by that House in the financial reform already entered upon.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that amongst the objections he had heard urged against the Bill, there was none against its general provision. It was admitted that the persons in question ought not to suffer loss in consequence of their having held such situations; and that they ought to be provided for as far as it could be done consistently with the public service. The question then was, how far the present bill was calculated to effect that? He justified the conduct of the duke of Portland's administration, when it first came into power, in continuing to these foreign ministers the pensions given to them by the preceding government.

Mr. Abercromby

said, it was then open to the King's discretion, whether he would continue to them their pensions or not.

Mr. Canning

said, that from the constant exercise of the discretionary right in the King to grant a pension to all those who had served abroad as foreign ministers, there seemed to have arisen on the part of those ministers, a correspondent right to demand; so that the claims were so many, and were represented to be so similar, that the great difficulty was to know where to grant and where to withhold; this of course led to difficulties which were justly obviated by the Bill of last session. This Bill provided certain rules, which were meant to regulate future claims, by putting aside all those which did not come within such regulations. The first rule laid down was, that limiting the period of service within ten years from the date of his commission. The Bill further provided, that the person holding the foreign seals should certify that the claimant had not, within that space of time, refused any one mission to which the government might have thought it fit to call him. This he thought to be a wise provision, and one that had' been rendered the more necessary by a new custom, which was creeping in amongst those gentlemen, of exercising a supposed right of refusing any mission, after they had served out their three years; insisting upon it, at the the same time, that this refusal upon their part to discharge their duly to the public, did not invalidate their claims to the pensions they were receiving from the public, upon the ground of those services.—At the same time he had no hesitation in saying, that if when he had the honour of holding the seals for the Foreign department, any exemption had been proposed in favour of certain persons who were supposed (he knew not why) to be interested in the fate of the Bill, he would then have consented to it. The omission made in the Bill of last year, respecting this case, was merely an oversight; and it ought to be recollected, that though this Bill should pass, the discretion on the part of his Majesty to grant or withhold such pension, would remain entire and uncontrouled.

Mr. Whitbread

expressed his reluctance in feeling himself obliged to vote against the Bill.

Mr. Stephen and Mr. Giddy

were for the Bill.

Mr. Leach

replied to the arguments urged by various speakers against his Bill, and contended, that persons employed in the diplomatic service of the country, were entitled to a liberal provision, when they were no longer employed, though they might not have been ten years in; the service. Persons who gave their talents to the diplomacy, and relinquished other prospects of obtaining an independence on the faith of the existing negociation, ought not to be subsequently denied support in consequence of a new arrangement having been made.

The House divided, when the numbers were—

For the second reading 34
Against it 24
Majority —10