HC Deb 24 May 1811 vol 20 cc308-10

On the question for going into a Committee on this Bill.

Sir Charles Pole

opposed the Speaker's leaving the chair. He stated some objections to the Bill, and among others, insisted strongly upon the impropriety of placing the clerks of the Board of Control upon a better footing than the clerks of the Navy Office, by increasing their salaries. If such a principle were once recognized by parliament, there could be no knowing where it would stop. Every other department under government might feel itself entitled to an increase; nor did he see how the subalterns of the army and navy could be refused, after such a proceeding.

Mr. R. Dundas

thought the hon. admiral completely misconceived the facts of the case: at the present moment there was an annual deficiency of 1,300l. and unless that deficiency was supplied, the salaries of the clerks would be diminished; which he was sure the hon. admiral could not have in his contemplation. The question here was, whether the clerks at the India Board could be got at less expence; and when it was considered that the four senior clerks had duties to perform, which required an education and attainments beyond ordinary accounting-clerks, he was prepared to say that it was utterly impossible to get effective persons for an inferior salary. It was proposed that the salaries of the senior clerks should not exceed 600l. a year, and those of the inferior ones 400l. a year, and it seemed strange to expect they should perform their various duties for a less consideration. The hon. admiral had directed his remarks against one clause alone of the Bill, but as there were several others which required consideration, he trusted he would not oppose the Speaker's leaving the chair.

Mr. Robert Thornton

supported the Bill, and thought, that when the salaries of all other clerks were raised, those belonging to the India Board should not form a solitary exception, and be driven down in society, by being worse off than others in the same rank of life.

General Tarleton

argued against the injustice shewn by ministers, in bringing forward a measure which was to improve the condition of the clerks in the India House, while they refused to raise the pay of the army, who were deprived of those domestic comforts which the former possessed. The stipend of every clerk was raised, but there had been no increase in the pay of the army since the reign of Charles 2, with the exception of something to the subalterns of the line and cavalry, which did not amount to more than the property tax. In the face of the House and the country, and in the name of the army, he must appeal against this injustice.

Sir John Anstruther

never heard a more ill-timed or ill considered speech than that just delivered by the gallant general. It was a most invidious comparison to hold out that the House was unjust to the army and navy, because it paid persons in inferior situations. What would be said to him, if, as a civil man, he acted similarly, if an addition was proposed to the pay of the army, and if he upheld the clerks to the officers of the army, who had much higher and nobler objects in view than mere pecuniary compensation? Good God! exclaimed the right hon. baronet, that a general officer should bring forward such a comparison, which was only worthy of some obscure alley in the city! The question was simply this, whether these persons were to be kept in that rank of life, which others in similar situations held? He could affirm, that the gentlemen belonging to the Board of Controul, were harder worked, and worse paid, than any other such men in the kingdom. The right hon. gent. had refrained horn any mention of his own situation, which, how-ever, was extremely arduous, and required a much higher recompence than was attached to it, to induce the person who filled it not to give it up, which would be attended with extreme inconvenience. Such was the case, and he retained the most decided opinion as to the expediency of the present Bill.

Mr. Creevey

did not object to the increase of the salaries of the clerks; but he thought there were funds sufficient for that purpose without any additional vote.

Mr. Wallace

maintained the expediency of granting to the full extent provided far in the Bill.

Mr. P. Moore

said he should oppose the Bill.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that all were agreed as to the propriety of remunerating the clerks, and those who knew most of the subject recommended an additional remuneration to the person at the head of the Board of Control; it was with this view, and not to serve any personal purpose, that his right hon. friend had proposed the Bill. The consideration of the Company's Charter would bring the subject under the notice of parliament again, and he was persuaded it would be then found that the great increase of business justified and required the addition.

The question was then put and carried; and the Bill went through a Committee.