§ The House having resolved itself into a Committee of Supply, to which the Ordnance Estimates were referred,
then entered on the statement of the Ordnance Estimates. The Ordinary estimate for that service amounted to 1,141,045l. 5s. 10d.; which was 147,000l. less than the former war establishment. The companies in the Ordnance were reduced 20 men each, viz. from 120 to 100. The Extraordinaries would amount to 2,246,917l. 12s.; which was 492,000l. less than the estimate of the last year of the former war; and, all together, it was less by 700,000l. than if we had still gone on on the war establishment of 1814: this, therefore, would appear to the committee as a serious diminution in the general expense. The total amount, then, for the service of Great Britain, for the present year, will be 3,459,600l. 1s. 10d.; and that for Ireland, 375,820l. 18s. 10d.; making a grand total for the service of the United Kingdom of 3,835,421l. 0s. 8d. This sum was greater than our peace establishment by nearly 1,500,000l.; and less than our last war establishment by 784,000l. He should be happy to afford any information in his power on this subject, to any gentleman requiring it; but there was one item of the expense to which he would particularly allude—it was the increase of salaries to clerks, making a sum of 5,000l. for the land service, and the same for the sea service. The salaries formerly received were inadequate for procuring the clerks the common necessaries of life; he was therefore convinced the committee would not object to the increase. He concluded by moving, "That a sum not exceeding 3,835,421l. 0s. 8d. be granted for the purpose of defraying the charges of the Ordnance Establishment of Great Britain and Ireland."
, remarking on the immense expenses for repairing and building fortifications and other works, lamented that they should be incurred in executing the plans of a Board, the members of which had never seen any foreign service.
§ Mr. R. Ward
eulogized the great abilities and science of the Inspector-general of Fortifications and of the members of the Board; and contended, that a man of science, who had never quitted his library, 698 was as capable of planning and of executing defensible fortifications, as men who had seen active service, which, indeed, was not in the least necessary.
said, that he had not mentioned any particular person, nor was he by any means willing to deny the talents and scientific knowledge of the Inspector-general; but he could not assent to the opinion expressed by the hon. gentleman, of the inutility of practical knowledge.
§ Mr. Ward
acknowledged that no particular name had been mentioned, but, however, the persons alluded to were no less understood. A great injustice had been done to an officer of distinguished merit, whose valuable life had been devoted to the service of his country. He challenged the hon. gentleman, or any of his parliamentary friends, to rival the knowledge of the Inspector-general. He stated, that maps had been drawn out of the several counties in England; which, however, Government did not deem it prudent to publish at present, lest they might fall into the bands of the enemy: and in justification of this reserve, he adduced the example of Buonaparté, whom he designated as the ablest captain in the world—and who, threatened with invasion by the Allies, destroyed Cassini's maps of France, lest the enemy might thence obtain useful information. And to show how highly the maps of this country were prized by Buonaparté, he mentioned that when retiring to Elba, he was seen particularly careful of a large box, which was supposed by many to contain some valuable treasure; but on opening it, nothing was found but some maps of the sea-coast of England.
§ Mr. Whitbread
admired the happy discretion exercised by his Majesty's ministers, in withholding the maps of Bedfordshire, and Buckinghamshire, and other interior counties, while it was acknowledged that maps of the maritime districts were in possession of the enemy. [Hear!] But there was one expression in the speech of the hon. gentleman, which surprised him not a little. He alluded to his having called Buonaparté the ablest captain in the world. This was an acknowledgment he had by no means expected at the present moment from a gentleman filling an official situation in this country. If such an opinion had fallen from any one on his side of the House, censure would be incessant in its attacks, and it would have been received with an up- 699 roarious exclamation of astonishment and triumph.—[Hear!] Certainly, however, such an opinion would have been less wonderful than when coming from a person of the hon. gentleman's gravity, and tutored in principles so totally different. It was to have been expected, that at least a rival should share that name with Buonaparté, and that even if the hon. gentleman were desirous of ranking him as the first captain in the world, he would associate the Duke of Wellington with him in the title, and so make out two first captains in the world—[Hear! and laughing.] Yet this Buonaparté, so highly esteemed, is represented as a second Alaric, anxious to destroy a work of genius, and to annihilate Cassini's plates; and the hon. gentleman must needs take the first of men as his example: differing from him in this only, that while one destroys the source of knowledge, the other is equally desirous to withhold it. To him, likewise, are we indebted for an additional anecdote of Buonaparté, which shows that those maps of England, whence danger might be apprehended, were in our enemy's possession, while we were withholding others, which could not by any means be considered injurious. The hon. gentleman had argued, as if his hon. friend had not a right, or was unable, to examine the competency of persons appointed to fill particular offices. "Oh!" said he, "if you have any doubtson the subject, call me, or some of my coadjutors to the bar, and we will prove the competence of the persons alluded to." But he insisted on the right of his hon. friend, as a member of parliament, to make the remarks he had done, and to demand the information which he called for. With respect to this mighty secret, which, it seemed, was to be confined under 10,000 padlocks, he could inform the hon. gentleman, that it was published long before the Government knew any thing about it. In making the celebrated survey of the coast, foreign artists had been employed. One of them, a man of very great abilities, had proceeded to France the moment peace was concluded in 1802, and what he had published was quite sufficient for every purpose the French might have in view—it contained every thing which they could desire to know on the subject. Now, that which he and his hon. friend wished to be produced, related solely to the interior of the country. Surely they were not now afraid of invasion. The right hon. the 700 Chancellor of the Exchequer had informed them, that Buonaparté was to be destroyed by a great simultaneous effort—he was to be run down sooner than the King of Naples was. And yet the hon. gentleman seemed to think, that if those maps fell into the hands of the enemy, they would quickly force their way into the interior of the kingdom, in spite of the country gentlemen, their local militia, and all their appointments. [A laugh.] He contended that he, or his hon. friend, had a perfect right to comment on the capability of any officer employed in the public service. It was not to be endured, that an attempt should be made to interfere with that right, or that the information, demanded should be refused. The fortifications at Dover and Chatham—the canal, and the Martello towers—had been carried on in a manner that appeared ridiculous, in the eyes of those who were perfectly capable of judging of such works. Here, then, a necessity for explanation was evident. A great waste of public money had taken place in erecting those Martello towers, and in raising fortifications at Dover and Chatham; and, therefore, his hon. friend was warranted in asking, who were the persons constituting the Board that superintended those works, and what their specific services had been? Those persons had, no doubt, decided honourably, and acted to the best of their judgment; but certainly they had proceeded in a manner that excited the surprise of many persons who had seen much service. And here he begged leave to relate an anecdote, in return for the one with which the hon. gentleman had favoured the committee. When the Martello towers were first projected, two sets of engineers waited on Mr. Pitt, who, though he could reason very acutely on most subjects, certainly was not an engineer. After hearing various arguments adduced, on the one side, in favour of Martello towers, and, on the other, in support of canals, as the best mode of defending the coast, he observed—I have heard so much on both sides, that I am at a loss to which I should give the preference—therefore, let us have both;" and both he had accordingly. Those who saw the canal, smiled at the futility of such a mode of defence. It was indeed, very weak to imagine that a ditch, 30 or 40 feet wide would stop the approach of an, enemy who had landed on our shores. With respect to the capacity of the mem- 701 bers of that House, in general, to judge of the utility of such works, he conceived it was at least equal to that of the hon. gentleman—whose time had principally been devoted to the study of the law of nations—to the investigation of that which ought to prevent war. But, as to military matters, he had only applied himself to them very late in life—when, for particular purposes, he was selected to fill the office he now held. [Hear, hear!] The hon. gentleman might be very fit for the office he was appointed to—but members would be extremely unfit for the situation they filled in that House, if they did not ask questions as to the competence of individuals to perform particular duties.
§ Mr. R. Ward
observed, that the hon. gentleman had, as his custom, was, mixed up a great number of matters in his speech, which had nothing to do with the question before the House. In every speech he made, the hon. gentleman was in the habit of indulging in personal allusion and attack. With all the respect he felt for the hon. gentleman out of the House, he must inform him that those attacks, whether arising from the feebleness of the public grounds on which he opposed ministers, or arising from rashness of character or impetuosity of temper, were perfectly unimportant to him, and were heard with the utmost indifference. Knowing that the hon. gentleman was in the habit of making attacks on all sides—recollecting how egregiously he had failed in all his attempts during the present session, he almost felicitated himself on becoming the object of his animadversion on this occasion. [Here Mr. Whitbread laughed.] It was very well to endeavour to laugh it off, but that was not the way to disprove his statement. The hon. gentleman, when he was absolutely ignorant of what was passing in the world, during the absence of his noble friend (lord Castlereagh), came down to the House, and attempted to hold him out to the public as a person unworthy of their confidence; but, when dared to proceed, he retired, and refused to bring forward any specific question, on which the sentiments of the House, with respect to the conduct of his noble friend, could be fairly manifested. At the commencement of the session he considered him the best friend Government ever had, and he now continued of the same opinion. What had he done on the present occasion? This being a vote for a very large 702 sum of money, the hon. gentleman had confined his observations to the single question of maps. This, it appeared, was the only point of objection, on a vote of 4,000,000l. of public money. The hon. gentleman seemed to think that no danger could arise from the publication of those maps, because some of them had been given to the world. But was there no information of an objectionable nature, to be derived from them, with respect to Scotland—to Ireland—and to many counties of this kingdom? Was it to be argued, because a survey of three counties had been published, that, therefore, the whole should be forthcoming?
§ Mr. Whitbread
observed, that the hon. gentleman's description of a personal attack was extremely curious. He (Mr. Whitbread) was stated to be in the habit of striking at random—of hitting every one about him; and this the hon. gentleman denominated a personal attack. The hon. gentleman accused him with having taken a direct aim, which he afterwards explained as being nothing more than a random shot. With respect to what passed in the early part of the session, the Journals of the House, and the debates on the different questions he had introduced, would best prove whether he had failed, and whether he had acted in complete ignorance of the subjects he had brought under consideration. Of this, however, he was sure, that the hon. gentleman had shown himself quite ignorant of the details of the business of the House, or he never would have hazarded the remarks he had made on this particular point. The hon. gentleman seemed to argue, that he had a better right to understand the qualifications of certain public servants, than gentlemen who were not connected with ministers. As he (Mr. Whitbread) had not, like the hon. gentleman, taken office, there was little doubt that the hon. gentleman was possessed of more information on this point, than he could pretend to. But that information, he conceived, ought to be stated to the House when it was called for. He wished to make no observation that was not founded in good humour and sincerity; and, however he might respect the hon. gentleman, he was really of opinion, that persons might be found more fit to fill the situation he at present held, than he was.
§ Mr. R. Ward
said, that the attack of the hon. gentleman, who was so fond of making charges, did not affect him.
§ Mr. Whitbread.
—I brought no charge against the hon. gentleman. All I said was, that a person who was educated as a civilian, could not be more capable of judging of military matters than members of parliament in general were.
§ Mr. Frankland Lewis
said, that when it was originally determined to form an accurate survey of this country and of France, it was intended for the benefit of the two nations; artists were selected from each, and degrees were measured on both sides of the water. No person thought of danger, until it was too late to think of preventing it. Surveys of Kent, Sussex, Essex, and a great part of Dorsetshire, were published under the administration of the duke of Richmond. One of two Conclusions must, in the present instance, be come to. Either the maps ought to be published, with a view to that public benefit which was originally intended, or the project ought to be abandoned altogether, if danger were apprehended from it. How could Government think of proceeding with so expensive an undertaking, and, at the same time, refuse to let the public participate in the benefit of it? The whole of the argument in favour of the concealment of those copper-plates, was uncongenial with English feeling, and reminded him of the mean jealousy of the Chinese and Spaniards.
§ Mr. D. Giddy
said, that if the probability of danger from the publication of those maps could be clearly shown, he certainly thought it would be right to refuse them. But he saw no reason to apprehend any disadvantage whatever. Indeed, he understood, that a set of maps had been published in France, which (although the elevations were not marked on them) could very easily be filled up, so as to answer every practical military purpose. He had stated, last session, that if ministers persevered in refusing those maps, he should make a motion on the subject; but, as it might have been considered a hostile measure, he had abstained from it. The hon. gentleman had stated to the House, that it was not expedient to give any farther information on this subject; but if some good reasons were not given in the next session, for withholding those maps, he should feel it his duty to bring the matter under the consideration of the House. In that part of the country (Cornwall) with which he was particularly connected, a Geological Society had been recently established; 704 they were about to publish a very large map, six inches to a mile, in which all the lodes and veins of ore would be marked, as well as the elevation of the different hills, which was a point of great importance in mining. If be thought any public disadvantage was likely to arise from the publication of this geological map, he certainly would not put private benefit in competition with the safety of the country. The same remark would apply to the maps which had given rise to this conversation; from the publication of which he conceived no inconvenience, and much benefit, would be derived.
said, that Cassini's maps had not been destroyed: he had, in his possession, a very good set of them. He considered it truly ridiculous to apprehend any danger from the publication of the remainder of the British survey, after the enemy were placed in possession of all the information they could possibly want, the maritime counties having been already published. The hon. gentleman imagined, that there was nothing connected with, those estimates, to which they could object, except the grant which respected maps. There was, however, a sum of 240,000l. charged for fortifications, in the present year, in this country, to which he strongly objected. It would, perhaps, be asked, "Do you wish those fortifications to be abandoned?" He had no hesitation, in saying, that he sincerely wished they were, with the exception of the two great naval arsenals of Portsmouth and Plymouth. It was, perhaps, expedient to have them fortified; but he believed there was no man, conversant with the military defence of a country, who would not say, that the fortifications at Dover and Chatham were utterly useless.
§ Mr. Whitbread
, who said, it had never occurred to him, that any thing calling for repentance had happened in the course of the evening. But, when the hon. gentleman alluded to what had previously passed, and stated, that he did not repent it, he (Mr. Whitbread) thought it right to call for an explanation of the hon. gentleman's expression.—(Loud cries of "Chair!")
§ Mr. Brogden.
—I think there has been too much of personal attack and of per- 705 sonal feeling in the observations of the hon. gentlemen. It had better rest here.
§ Mr. Whitbread.
—The attack I conceived to be parliamentary; and the manner in which it was met I thought also to be parliamentary. But the manner in which the hon. gentleman has alluded to it, I look upon to be unparliamentary, and I object to it.
§ Mr. R. Ward
said, when he stated that he did not repent any words he had uttered, it was with reference to a public subject, and to his conduct on that particular subject: and he begged leave to disclaim any wish to treat the gentleman (whose private character he highly esteemed) with disrespect.
§ Mr. Whitbread
, —There is a word omitted, which, situated as I am before the committee, ought, I think, to have been particularly used. The hon. gentleman speaks of me, as the "Gentleman," not the "Honourable Gentleman." This, I take to be unparliamentary.
§ Mr. R. Ward
meant to have designated him as the "Honourable Gentleman." He did not repent a single word he had said; but, in making this observation, he intended nothing personal.
expressed a similar wish; at the same time observing, that there was something in the course pursued by the hon. gentleman that very naturally excited the notice of his hon. friend.
§ Mr. R. Ward
said, that with respect to the course he might feel it necessary to adopt, he should always follow his own discretion. He then proceeded to defend himself from the charge of having asserted, that gentlemen were not competent to criticise military works, because they were not military persons. He never stated any such tiling. He merely observed, when gentlemen were censuring military works, in general terms—calling this ridiculous, and that preposterous—that those who understood the subject better, thought otherwise. Even though a civilian, he conceived he was quite competent to make this remark.
§ Mr. Whitbread
observed, that the hon. gentleman's profession of unrepentance was quite unnecessary, as he had not been called on to repent. For his own part, he should not desist from observations on those estimates in future; and so far the hon. gentleman, who was desirous of being attacked, would, from the manner in which 706 they were brought forward, be pretty sure to be gratified, as be (Mr. Whitbread) should find, it very inconsistent with his feelings or principles to sink, like some other hon. gentlemen, into perfect silence with a good grace.
§ Sir J. Newport
asked why the accounts of Ordnance Contracts, which had been ordered, were not laid before the House. He was well informed that a provision which had been ordered by the law of 1782, to be inserted in all contracts with. Government, viz. that no member of that House should participate in the profits, had not been inserted in those contracts. He had also very good information, that in a contract with another Board, as appeared by the answer to a bill of discovery, two members of the House had actually participated. A very good provision had been inserted in the Ordnance Contracts, viz. that no clerk of the office should participate; but this was no justification of the omission of that which the law required.
§ Mr. R. Ward
said, that as soon as the accounts were made out they would be presented. They had been voted but ten days. He could certainly state, that no member of parliament had entered into a contract With the Ordnance.
wished to know whether that provision which was ordered by the law of 1782, had in fact been inserted in the Ordnance Contracts?
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
answered, that it had by inadvertence been omitted, as he had found on inquiry.
§ Mr. H. Martin
asked on what ground the addition of 1,500l. had been made to the salary of the Secretary of the Master-general of the Ordnance?
§ Mr. R. Ward
answered, that formerly there were two secretaries, but that in 1813 the experiment had been tried of performing the service by one, which had succeeded. The two secretaries had staff appointments in addition to their salaries, and received fees on warrants. The staff appointments were now taken away, and the fees were paid to the account of' the department; so that instead of an increase of expenditure, the public had in fact saved between 14 and 1500l. a year.
§ Mr. H. Martin
observed, that, he hoped the increase of expence would turn out to be a saving in other instances; but since the year 1810, when accounts of the increase of salaries had first been presented to the House, there had been an increase 707 of allowances to the officers in this department little short of 30,000l.
§ Mr. R. Ward
said, the increase of allowance was made to the servants of the public in the Ordnance Department in proportion to their length of service, on certificates of good behaviour. The clerks were paid less in the Ordnance Department for the same service than in any other.
§ Mr. Martin
wished to know on the subject of a pension to colonel Congreve, which he should at some future time bring before the House in a specific form, whether there was any precedent for the manner in which that pension had originated, viz. by the intimation of the Royal pleasure to the Master-general? He should say nothing at present of the grounds of that pension, but he merely wished to know as to the form, which had been also followed in the case of the pension to colonel Shrapnell.
§ Mr. R. Ward
said, the form of proceeding in the case of these two pensions was the same which had always been followed from time immemorial on the grant of any pension or allowance in this department, viz. by an intimation of the Royal pleasure.
§ The Resolutions were then agreed to.