HC Deb 17 March 1815 vol 30 cc251-6

The House resolved itself into a Committee of Supply, in which various sums for Miscellaneous Services were voted. On the motion, "that 20,000l. be granted to be applied in further execution of the Act of the 43rd of his Majesty, towards making roads and building bridges in the Highlands of Scotland for the year 1815,"

The Speaker,

being one of the commissioners under the act of parliament to superintend the erection of bridges and the making of roads in the Highlands of Scotland, wished to state the proceeding which had taken place under that Act. The effect produced by the Act was, that 460 miles of road had been made; 270 miles were contracted for; and 170 miles were under consideration, and would be made, if found to be of sufficient public advantage, and if the parties benefitted would advance one moiety of the money at which the expense was estimated. Several stone and iron bridges, of great span, had also been erected; so that there was an uninterrupted road along the East coast of Scotland, with many branches towards the Western parts, towards the fisheries and cattle country. The money appropriated to harbours had been expended on nine different harbours, chiefly on the East coast of Scotland, so that that sea could not now be considered, as it was of old, mare importuosum. The expense to the country had been 150,000l. To individuals it had been the same: the expense being by the Act divided into equal moieties between the country and persons interested. Of the 70,000. expended on bridges, 40,000l. had been expended by individuals; 30,000l. only by the public: the excess above the estimate, which was greatest in the case of the bridges, being always paid by the individuals. Of the sum paid for harbours, 18,000l. was by the public; 22,000l. by individuals. The future charge would, it was believed, be concluded in two years more. The works now in progress had been hitherto provided for by the moiety paid by individuals, which was always deposited, before the work commenced, in the Bank of Scotland. After two years there might be some expenditure under the County Assessment Act, by which the four northern counties were authorized to assess themselves to a certain amount: but this could only be in one county, viz. Ross, the others being pledged already to the amount of the sum thus empowered to raise. As to the repairs, the expense was in the proportion of one-fourth to the public, and three-fourths to the individual, and the counties had been induced to contribute to such military roads as were of general benefit; the expense would be yearly 2,500l. for the repair of all the roads, being short of that which attended the repair of military roads alone.

Mr. Wynn

thought, that if such large sums of public money were to be given to keep up the roads in the Highlands of Scotland, Parliament should also consider whether something ought not to be given to keep up and repair the roads in the mountainous parts of Wales, which lay in the line of direct communication between London and Dublin.

Sir John Newport

thought, that the road to Ireland should be as much attended to by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, as the roads through the Highlands of Scotland. As to the roads in Ireland, they were well kept up by county assessments.

Mr. W. Smith

thought that every case ought to stand on its own legs. He had no objection to voting the sum proposed, and afterwards, if a proper case was made out, he should see no objection to a similar vole for roads in Wales, where it was evident that the roads would not be so beneficial to the districts immediately adjoining, as that they could be fairly called upon to pay the whole expense of them.

On the motion, "That 50,000l. be granted towards defraying the expense of making an Inland Navigation from the Eastern to the Western Sea by Inverness and Fort William for the year 1815."

The Speaker

stated, that he was in his official capacity in the commission under the Act, in pursuance of which this sum was proposed to be voted: the purpose was to make navigable a communication of about 50 or 60 miles, between the two places in question, which would open a navigable communication between the Eastern and Western Sea. The original estimate was 500,000l., the sum expended was 512,000l., and the sum at which the whole expense was now estimated was 700,000l. The work would probably be completed in three years after the present year. There was now no doubt as to the possibility of making Lochness navigable, moorings being judiciously disposed; and from the invention of steam-boats, the communication could be made with as much certainty as on a turnpike road. The advantage of opening the communication would be, that the cost of tonnage from the Baltic to Liverpool, the port chiefly interested, and the western coast, at the rate of 8s. a ton in summer, and a greater proportion in winter, the rate of insurance would be lessened, and time would be saved. There were now 10 or 12 vessels wrecked every season in passing round the north coast; the number of lives saved by the communication, which rendered that dangerous navigation unnecessary, was of incalculable value.

Mr. Abercrombie

said, as Parliament had originally agreed to this speculation, there could be no doubt of the propriety of voting the sum now required to carry it on. From the first, however, he had declared himself hostile to the undertaking.

On the motion, "that 1,673l. be granted for the relief of the Poor French Refugee Clergy for the year 1815,"

Sir Gilbert Heathcote

wished to take this opportunity of expressing his concurrence in what had fallen from his hon. friend (Mr. Whitbread) on a former evening, as to the impropriety of this country taking any part in the present disturbances in France. Whether Napoleon or Louis was at the head of the French government, he thought we ought to preserve relations of amity with that country, and not again plunge into a new war. Having said so much, he would not bore the House with any further observations.

Mr. Arbuthnot

explained that this grant was not for French emigrants, but for French Protestant Clergymen who had been driven to this country by the revocation of the edict of Nantes.

On the motion, that 25,06sl. be granted for defraying the expense of the establishment of the Royal Naval Asylum,

Mr. Whitbread

said, that this large item he believed had originated in a voluntary contribution, by which the institution was at first established, being afterwards taken under the auspices of Government. On going over the sums of which this total of 25,068l. was composed, he found, that to a person for auditing the accounts, no less a salary was given than 300l. per annum. He could not help thinking, considering the sum to be audited, that this was a most enormous charge. The situation he thought was made for the man, and not the man for the situation. On going further, he found another charge of fifty-two guineas for hair-cutting. He thought some barber could be procured for this sum, who would work all day long, but in all probability he occasionally lent a hand to the auditor.

Mr. Arbuthnot

said, the auditor was a clergyman, and assisted the chaplain of the institution in the execution of his duties.

Mr. Whitbread

was at a loss to know what a clergyman had to do with auditing accounts.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that the gentleman in question had been extremely useful in the formation of the institution.

Sir John Newport

observed, that this clergyman, in addition to being auditor of the institution, Was also auditor of the accounts of the non-resident clergy, being himself the incumbent of two livings in Ireland, on which he never resided.

Mr. Arbuthnot

said, that the gentleman had lost his livings in Ireland by attending to his duty as auditor of accounts.

Mr. Fitzgerald

stated, that Dr. Clarke had ceased to possess the benefit of his Irish livings.

Mr. Whitbread

thought that 300l. a year, with a residence, coals, candles, &c. was too much for the auditor. He was quite sure a salary of 100l. a year, without perquisites, would be deemed amply sufficient by a competent person. Why was there a governor with 760l. a year? Indeed, from the beginning to the end, from the governor to the 50l. a year barber, all appeared to him a job.

Mr. Croker

said, the governor was selected from the list of meritorious naval captains, and the emoluments were not greater than his pay, if on actual service. The auditor was the only person not selected from those who had served in the navy. So far as he was acquainted with the Society; (and from his situation, he was a governor,) he denied it was a job. It was a fair provision for meritorious naval characters, and at the same time a useful asylum for the children of seamen. He was willing to admit that the institution was objectionable, from the admission to it being so general, he having a strong dislike to see the children of officers on the same level with those of common sailors, in the system of their education. With reference to the duties of the auditor, they embraced the inspection of larger sums than the 25,000l. in the estimates. The present auditor was also one of the founders of the institution.

Mr. Whitbread

said he was then one of the happy founders who drew a benefit from his labours. The school was intended for 1,000 children. How many were actually there at present? From what the Secretary of the Admiralty had said, he (Mr. W.) thought a committee should be appointed to inquire into the management of the School, as it was stated by that hon. gentleman to be evidently defective.

Mr. Croker

did not mean to go so far as the hon. gentleman insinuated, in his objection to the system; but he thought it wrong that the children of officers and seamen should be associated together in the institution. The numbers which the school establishment embraced were, 700 boys, and 300 girls. The former were there at present; in the latter, he believed there might be some deficiency. Such an establishment must evidently be useful.

Sir C. Pole

conceived the establishment improper, from the irresponsible enormous expenditure which was lavished without control, in its buildings.

Mr. Arbuthnot

had no objection to the proposed committee; but he would suggest to its proposer to pay the asylum a visit during the Easter recess, and satisfy himself, respecting the establishment. The auditor neglected his Irish livings to attend to this institution, and he therefore conceived the salary not exorbitant.

The Resolution was pro tempore withdrawn.