HC Deb 12 February 1813 vol 24 cc506-8
Mr. Bankes

rose, pursuant to notice, to bring forward his promised motion upon this subject. He should not, he said, mis-spend the time of the House on this occasion, in detailing the grounds upon which this measure rested; a more appropriate opportunity would offer in a future stage for the full discussion of its merits. Although he had to address a new parliament, with a considerable accession of new members, upon this important subject, he could not doubt that the arguments in its favour would meet as favourable a reception as they had experienced from the last parliament, and that the present House of Commons would be found as solicitous for retrenchment and public economy as any of its predecessors. The main object of his Bill, the hon. gentleman described to be, to bring back offices to the principle of their original creation, namely, that those officers who had any duty to perform for the public, should receive the remuneration drawn from the public purse for that purpose, and that those offices to which no duty attached, namely, sinecures, should be gradually abolished. But he would take care to provide that those who had vested Tights should suffer no injury. His next proposition was to establish a permanent and certain fund for those meritorious servants of the public who might have derived reward from the sinecure offices which he called upon parliament to abolish. Thus his measure was meant to be wholly prospective. Following the same principles of reform which had been acted upon by Mr. Burke and Mr. Pitt upon similar occasions, and thus avoiding any innovation, he proposed to leave the rights and interests of the present possessors of the offices to which his Bill referred quite untouched, while he would endeavour to persuade the House to put an end to the further continuation of offices which were really a blot upon our system. As to certain offices in the law which his Bill was intended to regulate, he could not conceive it possible to defend an arrangement under which particular individuals received enormous emoluments, while all the duties of their offices were performed by deputies for a small remuneration. The hon. member concluded with moving for leave to bring in a Bill "for abolishing and regulating sinecures and offices executed by deputy, and for providing other means for recompensing the faithful discharge of high or effective civil offices, and for other economical purposes."

Lord Castlereagh

disclaimed any intention of opposing the motion of his hon. friend, or of entering into the discussion of its merits on the present occasion. But, in a future stage of the proceeding he should state fully the grounds upon which he felt it his duty to oppose his right hon. friend's proposition in the last parliament, and upon which he still felt himself bound to maintain the same opinion. He could not, however, let this opportunity pass by without stating his conviction, that the principle of reform pursued by his hon. friend on this subject was perfectly novel, and by no means in accordance with the principles acted upon in the regulation of public offices in former instances, cither by Mr. Burke or by his late right hon. friend, Mr. Pitt. This he should be prepared to show at the proper time. But there was one remarkable feature belonging to this measure, which he never could overlook, and which indeed must impress the mind of any man by whom it was fully considered, namely, that his hon. friend was not able to shew that his proposition would, in a pecuniary view, be productive of any saving to the public, while in a constitutional view it directly tended to trench upon the royal prerogative, and involved a very exceptionable innovation upon old established practice.

Leave was given to bring in the Bill.