HC Deb 05 June 1815 vol 31 cc609-13

The Report of the Committee of Supply was brought up, and on putting the question, That the Resolutions be read a second time,

Lord John Russell

rose to express his disapprobation of the war, which he declared to be impolitic in its origin, unjust in its object, and injurious in its consequences. He could not conceive what right we had to compel France to receive any particular form of government. It was true, that annexed to the Treaty of Vienna was a Declaration that the Allies would not force the Bourbons on the throne of France; but nothing could be more contradictory than the purport of the Declaration, and the 1st and 8th articles of the Treaty—by the former the right of Louis was waved; while the latter recognised it in full force. He conceived that Declaration to be nothing more than a pretence to satisfy the friends of freedom in this country, and to conceal the real object of the confederacy. As to compelling France to submit to foreign dictation, the thought was absurd—the experience of history would not warrant such a supposition, and the last war should have taught us the impossibility of effecting it.

Mr. J. P. Grant

wished to know from the Chancellor of the Exchequer what resources he looked to for carrying on the war, which had escaped every other person's observation. He could not conceive it possible to carry on the war without a deficit beyond the war taxes of about 45 millions. The whole income of the country appeared, from the property-tax returns, to be only about 145 millions; and yet the country would be called on to pay 70 millions of taxes, with a deficit, after all, of 45 millions. If he was wrong, he would be set right with pleasure. Nothing he had heard during the discussions, had changed his opinion of the impolicy of this war; neither by eloquence, nor by the technical justice of it, deduced from Buonaparté's non-fulfilment of a treaty for which no security was taken, and which, no one could believe he would abide by, if his interest led the other way, had a justifiable case been made out in his mind. The only argument that could be urged was, that it was essential to our safety that Buonaparté should be deposed. It was the first time in the world that war was made for such an object. It was the first time that it was said in that House, that the character of any individual was ground for a war for our own safety, which must depend upon our own exertions.

Mr. Bennet

animadverted on the conduct of King Ferdinand 7 of Spain, who he contended; had been enabled to carry his detestable measures into execution, by the assistance of the Government of this country. Formerly the character of this country stood high abroad; but the noble lord, and the Congress of Vienna, had at length settled that character. He wished to know from the noble lord, who it was that inflicted such disgrace on the character of the nation, as to advise the Order of the Garter to be conferred on Ferdinand of Spain.

Sir J. Newport

said, that from what he had heard, the present system of recruiting the militia, particularly in Ireland, was extremely injudicious, and conducive to a most lavish expense. He was informed, that bounties were given to recruits, who were then permitted to return home, under a promise of appearing again when required. He wished to know if such were the fact.

Lord Palmerston

replied, that as the militia regiments were not as yet embodied, Government had been obliged to have recourse to the system mentioned by the right hon. baronet. The entire bounty was, however, not paid, the recruit received only a guinea, and the remainder being withheld, he expected most of them would appear again when called upon.

Sir J. Newport

said, that there was nothing to prevent every one of them enlisting in different regiments, and receiving the bounty in each.

Mr. Gordon

was anxious to know whether any means were devised to correct the lavish expenditure in the commissariat department.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

replied, that the attention of Government had long been directed to this subject, and he hoped that measures had been now taken to put the system under more effectual control. In Spain, owing to the nature of the country, and the scantiness of resources, which led to the dispersion of the officers of the commissariat very widely, it was found impossible to regulate the department as well as could be wished, and abuses had crept in. In the Netherlands the supplies being abundant and at hand, the same difficulties would not exist; and the appointment of Mr. Rosenhagen to the new office of controller of this department, he hoped would be attended with the happiest consequences.

Mr. Baring

complained that the whole system of the commissariat in Spain had been defective, particularly the practice of giving only government paper in the mountains of Gallicia or Andalusia, where the inhabitants did not know how to estimate its value. He had wished that a committee should be appointed upon the subject. He objected to the great disproportion between the money we were to provide, and the small force it enabled us to bring into the field. He had understood that for the service of the army the agents of Government were now in the habit of buying up guineas. He wished to know if that were the fact?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that if such a practice existed it had not come to his knowledge. He was happy to say that a larger sum of ready money had been obtained for the army, by regular means than had been expected.

Sir J. Newport

hoped some regulation would be adopted to correct the system of billeting at present practised in Ireland, by which persons were liable to have the soldiery billeted upon them at the pleasure of the officers whose duty it was to provide quarters for the soldiers, without any regard to that fairness of distribution which ought at all times to be practised.

Lord Palmerston

was not so well acquainted with the nature of the laws upon this subject in Ireland, as with those in this country; but if the right hon. baronet would point out any improvement which his knowledge might enable him to suggest, he should be happy to attend to it.

Mr. Peel

said, that a measure was in contemplation, whereby, in all cases where soldiers were billeted on private individuals in Ireland, an allowance, of threepence per night for lodging money would be allowed; a sum which, on all occasions, would be sufficient to induce the soldiers to go elsewhere; but as there were many districts in that country in which public-houses were not to be found, it was absolutely necessary that billets on private individuals should be granted.

Sir J. Newport

said, his object was to have some measure adopted which would prevent respectable tradesmen and others from being rendered subject to the system of billet, as was the case in this country.

Mr. Grenfell

took this opportunity of asking, whether it was not now the practice to purchase light guineas for the purpose of being re-coined?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

knew of no such practice.

Mr. Horner

said, that it was absurd to attempt to conceal the fact, that not only Prussian and German, but French money, was now coined at the British Mint most extensively; and it was almost equally certain, that British guineas to a great amount were melted into Louis-d' ors. He admitted that it might be a necessary expedient, but it was absurd to keep laws upon the statute book against individuals, to prevent melting the coin of the realm, when: Government were guilty of the crime to so enormous an extent.

Mr. Baring

said, that this practice appeared to him to be exercising an unjustifiable act of sovereignty over those countries whose coins we imitated without express permission. What should we say to foreign nations who should venture to fabricate guineas for us?

The Report was then agreed to.